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Professor of Sociology at Columbia University 

NEW YORK B. W. HUEBSCH, Inc. mcmxxiii 


Second printing, March^ 1923 

AGF.;C. .vEPT. -ff^i-'C. BcJm. 


The vast social changes which characterize our 
age raise to a plane of great importance for 
sociology theories of social evolution and prac- 
tical programmes. Our interest in the pages 
which follow is not primarily with specific pro- 
grammes but rather with the more general and 
perhaps more fundamental aspects of social 
change, which are not, of course, without bearing 
on particular issues. The treatment deals with 
inquiries concerning the nature of these changes, 
why social changes occur, why certain conditions 
apparently resist change, how culture grows, how 
civilization has come to be what it is. These 
questions involve considerations of the nature 
and frequency of inventions, and of the part will 
power and human nature play in producing these 
processes. Are these changes solely in man's 
social heritage or are they changes in the biolog- 
ical nature of man? Could the great progress 
that has taken place since the last ice age have 
occurred without changes in mental ability and 
human nature? We are also interested in inquir- 



ing how satisfactorily human nature fares amiSs't 
these many changes, whether the inherent nature 
of man is better adapted to the new conditions 
than to the old, and how serious and frequent are 
the social maladjustments. To discuss these 
questions means that we must draw somewhat on 
researches in several different sciences, namely, 
biology, anthropology, psychology and economics, 
as well as on prior researches in sociology. 

The reader naturally wishes to know how scien- 
tific consideration of such broad questions can be 
made. The most widely current conception of 
scientific method stresses the verification by data. 
That the collection of data is of the greatest im- 
portance is not denied. But the data must be rele- 
vant to some inquiry; there must be something to 
verify. Therefore the construction of hypothe- 
ses must take its place along with the accumula- 
tion of evidence ; the random collection and study 
of facts are not indeed the sole factors in formu- 
lation of theories. There is always something 
that the human being wants to know; there is 
thus a demand for knowledge as truly as there is 
an economic demand. Particularly in the early 
development of a science the demand is much 
greater than the supply of material; and the de- 
mand is often not specific and over-simplified. 
Thus the inquiries demanded are often broad, and 
later it is found that they break down into a series 


of special Inquiries. In the early history of a 
particular science there is therefore a wide field 
to be surveyed preliminary to the verification of 
special hypotheses. 

The analysis of complex Issues depends some- 
what on facts and the more complete the data the 
better will be the analysis. With the available 
facts Incomplete, however, good analysis de- 
mands that special hypotheses be formulated In 
such a way that they can be later proved or dis- 
proved by facts. The merit of the formulation 
depends upon a number of factors, especially a 
certain sagacity for the significant and a know- 
ledge of the trend of the development of the 
sciences as well as the popular demand. The 
greatest source of error In valuations and In con- 
clusions is probably prejudice or emotional bias. 
In the absence of complete data, it Is thought that 
the most effective check against error is an exam- 
ination of the sources of one's own prejudices. 

The reader may be annoyed because the con- 
clusions which follow are less emphatic than he 
customarily finds and because a good many 
suppositions and probabilities are involved. It 
seems to the writer that while such Inconclusive- 
ness as Is found Is regrettable, yet it Is Imposed by 
the magnitude of the Inquiries and the scarcity of 
data. Despite these limitations there is value In 
the critical estimates of the various theories. 


Suspended judgment is quite as necessary in the 
development of knowledge as bold theories, and 
should accompany them. 

It has not been the purpose, particularly, to for- 
mulate a treatment of the sociological questions 
which would show them in their proper perspec- 
tive or according to their relative importance as 
a set of general sociological principles. The work 
may therefore seem somewhat uneven. The em- 
phasis has been of course, to a certain extent, 
according to importance, but it has also been the 
aim to present, if not new material and original 
considerations, at least formulations that are not 
widely known among sociological readers. 

It has unfortunately not been possible to give 
credit to all sources for the information and con- 
clusions found in the text. No one indeed ever 
honestly knows the origin of his ideas. They 
come as a result of a body of information gathered 
from innumerable sources during years of study. 
However, to many readers the current stock of 
sociological knowledge will be familiar and it will 
be known when such a stock of information has 
been drawn on. 

W. F. O. 



The Social Heritage and the Original Nature 

OF Man 


1. Social Heritage 3 

2. The Original Nature of Man ... 7 

3. The Confusion of Culture and the 

Psychological Nature of Man . . 11 

4. Differentiation of Cultural and Psy- 

chological Factors 16 

5. The Overemphasis of the Biological 

Factor 29 

6. Some Sociological Concepts Reexamined . 40 


Social Evolution 

1. Conceptions of Social Evolution . . 56 

2. The Biological Factor and the Cultural 

Factor in Social Change . . . .61 

3. Early Records of Cultural Develop- 

p ment 66 

^ 4. The Cumulative Nature of Material 

Culture and its Diversification . 73 
5. Inventions, Mental Ability and Cul- 
ture 80 


A List of Some Inventions and Discov- 
eries Made Independently by Two 
or More Persons .90 

6. The Rate of Cultural Growth . . .103 

7. Biological Change in Man . . . .118 

8. The Correlation of Cultural and Bio- 

logical Change .., . . ... . .^ . 130 

Cultural Inertia and Conservatism 

1. Various Conceptions of the Persistence 

OF Culture ...... .. . 146 

2. Survivals 150 

3. The Utility of Culture 154 

4. Difficulties of Invention and of Diffu- 

sion .......... 159 

5. Vested Interests 166 

6. The Power of Tradition 170 

7. Habit . 173 

8. Social Pressure 180 

9. Forgetting the Unpleasant . . . .186 
10. Psychological Traits and Conservatism 190 


Social Maladjustments 

1. The Hypothesis of Cultural Lag . . 200 

2. Verification by the Facts of Workmen*s 

Compensation for Accidents . . .213 

3. Illustrations: Taxation, Family, Inter- 

national Relations, Trade Unions, 
Representative Government, Pueblo 
EhvELLERS 237 

4. Reasons for Cultural Lag . , , . 256 

5. Correlation between Parts of Culture 265 

6. Material Culture as a Source of Mod- 

ern Social Changes .. . . . . 268 


Adjustment between Human Nature 
AND Culture 

1. The Theory of the Cave Man in the 

Modern City 284 

2. Evidence of Lack of Adjustment: Nerv- 

ousness AND Insanity 312 

3. Evidence OF Lack OF Adjustment: Social 

Problems 331 

4. Changing Human Nature versus Con- 

trolling Social Evolution . . .336 

5. Suggestions for Better Adjustments . 346 




When a child is born into the world he is born 
into a natural environment, a heritage of nature. 
This is true of all animals. But man is born also 
into a social heritage. ^ This is a heritage that 
does not devolve upon a particular individual, in 
the manner in which a man inherits a piece of 
property. This heritage is social and is common 
in general to all the children born into a particu- 
lar group. It is also called social heritage be- 
cause it is the product of human society, the re- 
sults of many social achievements during the ages 
that man has been on the earth. It differs from a 
heritage from nature such as land, water, air, 
vegetation, animals, in that the social heritage is 
the product of human social endeavor and is not 
the gift of nature, untouched by the hand of man. 
A group of new-born infants on an island unin- 
habited by man would be without a social heri- 
tage, although, like the lower animals, they would 

1 Graham Wallas, Our Social Heritage. 


be born into a natural environment. The social 
heritage is therefore not coextensive with envi- 
ronment. The environment of man may be said 
to consist of two parts: natural environment, in- 
cluding air, heat, land, water, soil, moisture, vege- 
tation and minerals ; and the social heritage, con- 
sisting of buildings, technological equipment, so- 
cial organization, language, the arts, philoso- 
phies, science, religions, morals and customs. 

The social heritage is very similar in meaning 
to the word, culture, as used by sociologists 
and anthropologists. Culture has been defined 
by Tylor as "that complex whole which in- 
cludes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, cus- 
tom and any other capabilities and habits ac- 
quired by man as a member of society.'' ^ In 
this definition of culture the use of material ob- 
jects is not particularly emphasized, and there is 
a tendency to think of culture as somewhat re- 
moved from material objects. However, the use 
of material things is a very important part of the 
culture of any people. A special term, material 
culture, is frequently used, giving particular em- 
phasis to the material features of culture. The 
word, culture, properly includes, as does the term, 
social heritage, both the material culture and also 
such parts of culture as knowledge, belief, morals, 
law, and custom. To enumerate in detail the 

2 E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. I, p. i, 


variegated subject matter of culture or the social 
heritage would include a very long list indeed; 
such an enumeration would comprise all the 
diverse parts of *'that complex whole" of which 
Tylor speaks. The social institutions or organ- 
izations are very important parts of culture, as 
truly as the other parts that have been specially 

The concept, civilization, is very closely related 
in meaning to the concept, culture. Civilization 
is used in a number of different ways. To some 
it means certain finer, choicer, and more spiritual 
or moral achievements of mankind and is thus 
contrasted with barbarism or savagery. Civil- 
ization is also used by some writers to refer to the 
conditions of society where it is organized on a 
civil basis as contrasted to a kinship basis. Civil- 
ization may also be thought of as *'that complex 
whole" in its recent stage of development. If 
culture be looked at historically then civilization 
is the late phase of culture, in other words, modern 

This conception has been further described by 
Herbert Spencer as the superorganic. Spencer 
conceived of a time when there was no life on the 
earth; all was inorganic.^ Then followed the 
inorganic and based upon it came the organic, and 
this organic developed through an evolutionary 

® Herbert Spencer, Principles of Sociology, Vol. I, Chap. I. 


process to its highest product, man. Finally, 
following man and based upon man came the 
superorganic, and this superorganic is also devel- 
oping, he said, through the process of evolution. 
These processes, the inorganic, the organic and 
the superorganic, are all interrelated and based 
one upon the other. Very probably the super- 
organic began with man or shortly after man 
evolved. It may be that some of the higher ani- 
mals have something like the beginnings of a 
superorganic. For instance, certain learned ten- 
dencies may be passed down from one generation 
to another by animals as a sort of rudimentary 
social heritage. Thus birds may learn to sing 
a certain note from another bird. The question 
as to the time of origin of the superorganic, or 
whether the higher animals other than man 
possess it, may be of great importance for some 
problems of science, but the solution of this ques- 
tion is not of great significance for the purposes 
of the present analysis. The terms, the super- 
organic, social heritage, and culture, have all been 
used interchangeably. 

The social heritage is different in different 
localities, with different peoples and in different 
eras. It also grows or decays, and no doubt 
there are definite processes describing its change. 
The causes of this variation and growth are of 


greatest interest, but our first purpose mu_st be to 
differentiate certain concepts. 



Man as we see him and know him is always a 
product of two factors, heredity and environment. 
The contribution of heredity to this product we 
call original nature. The fertilized ovum carries 
the determinants of what will later be his original 
nature. The germ cell develops into an individ- 
ual with definite anatomical and physiological 
characteristics. It determines, for example, 
whether the individual will be blond or brunette, 
male or female, large-boned or small-boned. But 
of the total biological equipment developed from 
the fertilized cell, we are interested primarily in 
that part of his endowment which is the subject 
matter of the study of psychology. The line of 
demarcation between physiological and psycholog- 
ical behavior is not clear-cut, but certain parts of 
the body, such as certain glands and the nervous 
, system appear to be more Intimately and consplcu- 
I ously related to the behavior found in social phen- 
omena. So we shall use the term original nature 


as relating to man's psychological equipment. 

The orginal nature of man is described In detail 
in the textbooks on psychology, but these descrip- 
tions are too long for summarization here. How- 
ever, In general the contribution of heredity to 
human nature is an organization of mechanisms 
that responds to stimuli In part or as a whole 
along specific channels. The conception of orig- 
inal nature Is therefore that of a responding mech- 
anism, living matter which has properties of activ- 
ity as truly as gunpowder has the property of ex- 
ploding or hydrogen and oxygen have the prop- 
erty of uniting. 

The mechanisms active In reactions are sense 
organs, nerve centres, motor nerves, dendrites, 
axons, synapses, cerebellum and cortex, that, with 
other parts, make up the nervous system which is 
connected In its functioning with muscles, blood, 
glandular secretions, etc. The behavior of these 
structures is quite varied and complex. But classi- 
fications have been attempted with more or less 
success. The psychological properties of man are 
usually spoken of as reflexes, instincts, Impulses, 
sensations, emotions and feelings. The varied 
reflexes and instinctive tendencies are types of 
responses differing In degree. The more simple, 
prompt and automatic responses are called re- 
flexes. The Instincts are somewhat more com- 
plex, involving many parts of the organism. 


The instinctive responses are also more delayed 
than reflexes Involving a series of bodily prepar- 
ations and adjustments. Many of what we call 
motives are thought to spring from the mechan- 
ism of instincts. The drives which impel the be- 
havior of man and the activity of the personality 
are said to come from the various mechanisms, 
such as the glands and nerves, that are a part of 
the machinery of Instinct. The wishes, which 
have sources, too. In instinctive equipment, affect 
also attention, choice, judgment, habit and 
thought. While the capacities of man to behave 
are varied and complex, the theory Is that these 
reactions can be analyzed into a few constituent 
elements, very much as matter may be analyzed 
into a few chemical elements. It Is the combin- 
ations of the elements that give the variety. 

In trying to see social phenomena in terms of 
culture and original nature. It Is the behavior of 
man's mechanism as a whole that Is particularly 
important, rather than such a detailed response 
as the reflex. It Is rather what are called the 
motives of human beings that are Important for 
social behavior. The original nature of man, In 
addition to the capacity to act, has the capacity 
to feel. Emotion, feeling and sensation also are 
a part of the equipment, and are found accom- 
panying various responses. Emotions are us- 
ually thought of as part of that response which 


we have called instinctive. The behavior seen in 
social life can be fully accounted for, no doubt, 
only by the whole of man's psychological nature, 
but, it is thought, emotion and instinct are quanti- 
tatively and relatively the more important part 
of this equipment for social behavior. 

Human nature is generally conceived by psy- 
chologists, fundamentally, as the nature of behav- 
ing of organized living matter of human beings 
possessing capacities for definite reactions. This 
has not always been the view of human nature. 
Primitive man thought of the human body as an- 
imated by spirits. Emotion, feeling, and be- 
havior during emotion suggested the body as a 
dwelling place of mysterious spirits which sud- 
denly came and went. Later the spirit of man 
was thought to be peculiar to man. Human 
nature was greatly different from animal nature. 

The work of such evolutionists as Darwin, Hux- 
ley and Spencer and the study of animal psy- 
chology threw a flood of light on the emotions 
and instincts. The nature of man was seen to be 
very much like the nature of animals. The sur- 
vival value of instincts was appreciated. The 
knowledge of the origin and development of the 
emotions took away much of the mystery sur- 
rounding these qualities of man. Researches In 
physiology, and experimental work in psycholog- 
ical laboratories further strengthened the idea of 


mechanism and response. Animal psychology 
and physiological psychology have added greatly 
to our knowledge of human nature, yet left much 
of our curiosity about human motives and human 
spirit unsatisfied. The work of students of ab- 
normal behavior as seen In neuroses and psy- 
choses is uncovering a wealth of material on dis- 
tinctly human motives and desires. From all of 
these sources, then, we are learning much more 
about our original nature and how it behaves. 


The presentation just made of the two factors, 
the social heritage and the psychological nature of 
man, indicates quite clearly that they are two 
distinct and separate things. In fact, to the 
reader they doubtless appear so distinct that he 
wonders why they should be thus differentiated, 
contrasted and compared. They seem to be on 
two different levels, one the organic and the other 
the superorganic. The objects of material cul- 
ture are certainly clearly differentiated from 
biological man. A house will never be confused 
with a human being; and factories, boats, 

machines, vehicles, clothing, food, are clearly 
marked off from muscles, glands, bones. The 
material objects of the social inheritance are dis- 
tinct from the material organs and parts of man. 
But the social heritage is not wholly made up of 
material objects, nor does the nature of man con- 
sist wholly of material organs. A part of the 
social heritage consists of ways of doing things, 
methods of making material objects, ways of re- 
acting to nature and material culture, and habits 
of organizing socially. So also a part of the 
nature of man consists of methods of reacting to 
stimuli, reflex activities, instinctive drives, habits, 
and various ways of behaving. 

It is the activities required by culture and the 
activities occasioned by the original nature of man 
where the planes of the superorganic and the or- 
ganic meet. Confusion resides where these two 
factors affecting behavior occur together, and it 
is in this meeting that there is necessity for differ- 
entiation. The communication of animals by in- 
stinctive and untaught sounds may be called 
biological-activity, whereas the communication of 
men by a spoken language may be called a cultural- 
biological-activity. Language is a feature of cul- 
ture, and communication by language could not 
occur without a culture. It is possible to imagine 
at least the material objects of culture as existing 


for a time without man and it is possible though 
difficult to Imagine men existing without any 
culture, but actually the two factors occur jointly. 
Some individual acts, particularly of special 
organs, such as breathing, occur often without In- 
fluence from culture, but a great deal of individ- 
ual behavior and particularly social behavior 
takes place in a cultural environment. The fac- 
tor, social heritage, and the factor, the biological 
nature of man, make a resultant, behavior in 
culture. From the point of view of analysis, 
it is a case of a third variable determined by the 
two other variables. There may of course be 
still other variables, as for instance, climate, 
or natural environment. But for the present, 
the analysis concerns the two variables, the psy- 
chological nature of man and culture. 

It is sometimes desirable to know how much 
the behavior of biological man In a cultural en- 
vironment is determined by activities of the bio- 
logical equipment and how much It Is shaped by 
culture. It has been said that civilization is 
simply a veneer, that If you scratch the back of a 
civilized man you discover a barbarian. This is 
simply a crude way of stating the desirability of 
keeping clearly in mind the distinction between the 
cultural and the biological. The traits of nations 
,and peoples differ, and one wonders how much the 


differences in national traits are due to the var- 
iable, culture, and how much to the variable, the 
biological nature of man. 

The psychologists have worked for many years 
trying to segregate from the environmental In- 
fluences the original traits of human nature. The 
difficulty of distinguishing original nature Is in- 
dicated by Woodworth in the following passage : 

John Doe is a strongly built man, over six feet high 
with big bones and muscles, erect, vigorous, with plenty 
of color in his face, dark-haired, blue-eyed, clean-shaven 
with a scar on his cheek, broad face and large ears. He 
is easy-going, even-tempered, fond of children and also 
of women, rather slangy and even profane in his talk, 
has a deep, sonorous voice and can carry the bass in a 
chorus. He is handy with tools, can drive or repair an 
automobile, is a fairly good carpet salesman, but much 
prefers out-of-door work. Rather free in spending his 
money, he has never run into debt except on one 
occasion, which turned out badly for him. Which of 
these traits of John Doe are native and which are 
acquired? How far are his physical, mental and moral 
traits the result of his 'original nature' and hovi^ far have 
they been ingrained in him or imposed upon him by his 
training and his environment?* 

John Doe's big muscles are partly the gift of 

* Robert S. Woodworth, Psychology, A Study of Mental 
life, p. 89. 


his Inherited endowment, but part of the size of 
these muscles may have come from work in his 
youth on the farm or In the blacksmith's shop. 
While it is difficult to measure these respective in- 
fluences, we know each influence has a limit. His 
fondness for children is due in part to an inherited 
parental instinct. But It may be influenced by 
experiences in his own childhood or with his own 

Psychologists have been accustomed to using 
several tests for determining what are the traits 
of original nature, as contrasted with traits due 
to culture, training, experience or habit. The 
traits that the individual shows at birth are 
very likely to be original nature, because 
of the limited Influence of environment on 
the foetus. The newly born Infant is a fruitful 
object of study In the search for original 
nature. But, of course, just as all traits 
are not developed in the fertilized ovum, so they 
are not all developed in the Infant. Certain 
traits and features do not appear until 
later, as, for Instance, at puberty. The longer the 
period of development, presumably the greater 
the possibilities of environmental influence. An- 
other rough criterion of original as contrasted 
with acquired traits Is the learning process. 
Traits that are learned show a large cultural In- 
fluence, while many that are not learned are native. 


Thus a bird flies without being taught to fly. 
Man vocalizes but learns to talk. Still another 
test that is sometimes used is the universality of 
the trait. All men or women are attracted by 
the opposite sex; we say the sex instincts are part 
of the original nature. Culture, however, is uni- 
versal among human beings also, so some traits 
common to all men are not wholly native but 
partly cultural, as, for instance, talking. But 
when traits are found among all peoples and the 
higher animals as well, the presumption is that 
they are inherited and part of original nature. 
The tests for original nature are not, however, 
always definitive and infallible. 



The concept, culture, and the concept, the original 
nature of man, have been set forth and it has been 
claimed that there is a confusion of these two 
factors in social behavior. It seems desirable 
therefore to consider some instances where such 
confusion exists, and we shall set forth several 
illustrations and at least one in some detail. Let 
us consider types of reaction of the French and the 


Americans, as the illustration is fairly simple in 
analysis. For instance, Americans consider the 
French as thrifty and the French consider Ameri- 
cans as wasteful. Such an observation is proba- 
bly true despite the fact that the comparisons 
are often made between wealthy tourists and poor 
peasants. But what are these traits due to? To 
differences in the biological natures of the peoples 
or to differences in their cultures? Theoretically, 
it is possible that such behavior as practicing 
thrift or being extravagant may be determined by 
the biological nature of man or by a cultural en- 
vironment. In approaching this problem in this 
particular instance we examine the cultural factor 

In many ways the cultures of these two peoples 
are similar, particularly when contrasted with 
the cultures of earlier eras. There are, however, 
some striking differences, two of which may be 
noted as affecting these traits. One concerns the 
development of the steam industry. The factory 
system is highly developed in the United States. 
Coal and iron are abundant. There is a great 
deal of manufacturing. Whereas in France 
there is, or was, not very much coal and iron. 
The factory system is not very widespread. The 
effect of the use of artificial power in making ob- 
jects of use contrasts markedly with the use of 
the hands. Wealth and riches multiply with as- 


tounding rapidity under the Influence of steam 
power In manufacturing as compared with the 
handicrafts, or as compared with agriculture, par- 
ticularly where the large, power-driven agricul- 
tural Implements are not extensively used. In 
other words, in the countries where the Industrial 
revolution has gone far there is a good deal more 
wealth than In countries which have not been thus 
affected. There is more Wealth to consume and 
the purchasing power per Individual Is greater. 
There Is, In short, less occasion to be thrifty and 
more opportunity to gratify the various cravings 
that can be answered by the expenditure of 
money. The rapidity with which wealth Is cre- 
ated also has much to do with the habit of spend- 
ing. In the United States the development and 
spread of manufacturing have been very rapid, 
particularly since 1865. Also, the extent of the 
use of advertising, which Is rather great in the 
United States, is not without point in the argu- 
ment, as advertising is a great incentive to spend- 

Another difference between French culture and 
American culture is the presence of a great 
amount of natural resources in the United 
States, as compared to the population. While 
natural resources, such as minerals, forests, soil, 
stnd water power, have not been classed as a part 
of the social heritage, nevertheless their presence 


in greater or lesser amount is not without effect 
upon the social heritage. Certainly the wealth of 
a nation is determined in large part by the abun- 
dance of its natural resources. The rapid coming 
into use of vast natural resources is not a sit- 
uation to encourage thrift, but rather tends to 
produce recklessness and waste. The phenom- 
enon of exploitation occurs all through recent 
American history. 

The wealth of the United States in compari- 
son to population is a good deal greater than the 
wealth of France. Comparable statistics of real 
wages are difficult to find, but the money income 
per capita is nearly twice as great in the United 
States as in France; the ratio in 19 14 was $335 a 
year to $185 a year.^ The comparison under 
discussion could be presented much more exhaus- 
tively and measurements could be made with some 
degree of completeness and accuracy. The situa- 
tion in other nations where there is variation in 
these factors could be brought in. An analysis 
of the French settlement in Quebec could be made. 
But a further consideration would tax the patience 
of the reader. The observations made have 
probably been sufficiently sound and full to demon- 
strate that differences in culture can account for 
much difference In a trait like thrift. 

United States^ p. 85. 


Turning to the biological factor, there is of 
course a basis for thrift in the mechanism of the 
human body. Some psychologists claim there is 
an instinct of acquisition and it has been said that 
there is a hoarding instinct. So variations in the 
original equipment of men may account for var- 
iations in a trait like thrift. But thrift may be 
much more complicated on its psychological side 
than the operation of a single hoarding tendency. 
It may involve conceptions of self, or love of dis- 
play, or a valuing of future goods more than pre- 
sent goods. It may indeed be determined largely 
by the ability to repress many other instincts. 
Very probably it is quite a complicated type of 
behavior. To make even a first approximation of 
what thrift is psychologically is difficult. 

But even if some sort of an approximation Is 
made, a satisfactory account is difficult to obtain 
due to the present lack of agreement as to the 
nature of the instincts and the ignorance in specific 
cases of the physiological mechanism of the in- 
stincts. That is to say, the measurement of the 
biological factor in thrift depends to a certain 
extent on the analysis of its mechanism. Experi- 
ments have been made, though, on the relative 
strength of instincts without knowing much about 
their mechanisms, and the relative strength of 
desires may be known, with little being understood 
as to their nature of origin. Psychological tests 


might be made on French and on American chil- 
dren, while very young before cultural influences 
have operated much, should the practical or the 
theoretical importance of any problem warrant 

But however difficult it may be to measure a 
biological trait free from cultural influences and 
however inadequate the present state of informa- 
tion on the instincts may be, it is not to be implied 
from these remarks, or from the fact that the 
cultural influences can be somewhat more easily 
analyzed, that the cultural explanation is the only 
true one. Indeed, while all human beings seem to 
possess the same general equipment of instincts, 
they no doubt vary in their strength, just as 
there is hereditary variation in stature. And if 
individuals vary in the strength of instincts, so 
collections of individuals might conceivably vary. 
Such variation by groups should not be assumed as 
a fact, but needs special investigation in each case. 
The general question of racial traits, about which 
there is so much feeling, is greatly complicated by 
the phenomenon of culture. But with reference 
to the particular question of French and Ameri- 
can traits, these two peoples belong to the same 
white race. The northern French are of the 
same general subdivision of the white race as the 
old American stock. This conclusion is based on 
certain measurements used in classifying groups, 


such as stature, hair color, eye color, cephalic in- 
dex, width of face and certain other general 
bodily features. From such measurements it is 
seen that the northern French and the earlier 
native-born Americans belong to the tall racial 
type found in northern Europe whose centre of 
dispersion was probably the Baltic sea. There is 
a great deal of intermixture among the racial 
types of Europe and purity of type is rare. But 
there are striking resemblances in the measure- 
ments of physical traits of the peoples of northern 
Europe. It would therefore seem from a consid- 
eration of the biological factor and the cultural 
factor that the differences between French and 
Americans in regard to thrift are more probably 
due to cultural influence. 

In some instances differences can be traced with 
great certainty to the cultural factor as there 
appears to be no variation in the biological factor. 
Such is true, for instance, in the manifestations 
of hospitality in different parts of the United 
States. The southerners are traditionally hos- 
pitable and so are those of the pioneer west. The 
phenomenon of hospitality is certainly more prom- 
inent in these agricultural regions than in the 
cities and towns of the east. The culture of the 
south and of the west, a few generations ago, 
was certainly conducive to hospitality. Food 
was plentiful, there was sufficient room in the 


houses; there was no overcrowding. The dis- 
tances between farm settlements was great. 
Travel was not heavy and inns were few. Fur- 
thermore, visitors meant "company" and associa- 
tions and news. In the towns and cities of the 
east the conditions were different in all these re- 
gards and hence hospitality would not be quite so 
strikingly manifested. It can very readily be seen 
how a type of behavior called hospitality can be 
determined by social conditions. 

Of course, there may be physiological struc- 
tures determining such a type of behavior also. 
Some persons are by nature, we say, penurious, 
while others are generous and these traits are not 
always determined by the size of the pocketbook. 
Such differences may be occasioned by variations 
in instinctive tendencies, as hoarding or gregar- 
iousness, or by sentiments of sociability. But in 
the United States the people were of the same 
racial type, that is at least until the immigration 
from southeastern Europe set in. The New 
Englanders migrated west; and the south and the 
east were settled in the main from England. In 
other words the racial factor appears to be con- 
stant; the variation is more probably in the cul- 
tural factor. 

Some types of behavior that seem largely biolo- 
gical and little cultural may nevertheless upon 
examination be found to be largely determined 


by the social conditions. Pugnacity and fighting 
seem to suggest immediately the original nature 
of man. Yet the social conditions determine in 
large part the frequency and nature of its mani- 
festations. The same peoples will at one age 
settle their quarrels by duels, and at another time 
by a different method, the custom of dueling hav- 
ing become obsolete. The development of the 
police system, of business and of the law courts 
causes the instinct of pugnacity to find other out- 
lets. And war itself while It certainly has a 
psychological basis manifests itself in particular 
social and economic settings. If war were dic- 
tated purely by the Instincts no doubt there would 
be a certain regularity and continuity as In the 
functioning of hunger. Head-hunting In Mela- 
nesia has been customarily interpreted as due to 
blood revenge, that is, a rather simple and direct 
manifestation of the original nature of man. Yet 
Rivers,^ as a result of a careful study, finds that 
the Idea of revenge does not enter Into the prac- 
tices at all. Head-hunting Is the result of a rather 
elaborate social ritual; It Is to be explained cul- 
turally rather than biologically. 

Illustrations might be presented in great num- 
bers, If the method were statistical or descriptive. 
But the foregoing Illustrations may be considered 

«W. H. R. Rivers, "Sociology and Psychology," Sociological 
Revinv, Vol. IX (1916), pp. 1-13. 


as representative of the type of analysis which it 
Is desirable to carry in mind, namely, that social 
behavior is shaped both by the physical heredity 
and by social heritage. Further illustrations, 
however, of the great power of the social heritage 
to cause variations in manifestations of human be- 
havior are found in great numbers in books on 
customs, such as Sumner's Folkways. In this 
book the analysis is not made with particular con- 
sideration of the biological element, but from 
such a treatise one is greatly impressed by the 
great variability in culture as a way of doing 
things, and particularly of the power of culture to 
select and magnify for special display, as It were, 
here one type of biological reaction and there 
another type. 

This problem from the point of view of analysis 
is similar in several respects to the problem of 
heredity and environment. In fact, the psycho- 
logical nature of man and culture is part of 
heredity and environment. The stature of an 
individual Is certainly affected by forces of hered- 
ity. Yet It Is also affected by the food one eats 
and by the diseases of one's childhood. Each of 
these influences operates to effect a permanent 
result, a stature which is permanent for a life- 
time, subject to only slight diminution after the 
maximum growth is reached. The influences of 
environment are not passed on to the next gen- 


eration through heredity. In like manner human 
behavior is in part the result of the influence of 
the original nature of man and in part the result 
of the influence of culture. The influence known 
as the original nature of man is passed on through 
heredity, but this is not true of the influence of 
culture. The influence of culture tends towards 
a certain permanency of result on the individual 
as does the influence of food on stature. Culture 
in early life has a good deal to do with shaping 
personality, which it is difficult to change very 
much in later life, and culture does tend to pro- 
duce even in the adult habits which resist change. 
Just as it is desirable to segregate the factor of 
environment from heredity, so it is desirable to 
differentiate the influences on behavior of the 
psychological nature of man and of culture. 

In discussing the variability in the biological 
factor and the variability in culture, it has been 
said that quite frequently the cultural factor 
varies but the biological nature of man is con- 
stant. It should be remembered that the varia- 
tion in the biological nature may be conceived 
from two different positions, as regards in- 
dividuals within a sample population and as 
regards samples of population in different periods 
or in different areas. It is the variation accord- 
ing to the samples and not according to in- 
dividuals that is meant when it is said that 


the biological factor is constant. It should 
certainly be remembered that Individuals vary 
in regard to any particular trait In any sample 
population, though the average trait of a sample 
does not vary from one sample to another, except 
as such variations are due to the smallness of the 
sample. Unless this point Is remembered con- 
fusion may arise In such Illustrations as the follow- 
ing. In modern civilization. Individuals are 
found to vary In their mathematical ability. One 
Individual can not count above ten whereas an- 
other Individual Is able to handle a tool like cal- 
culus. Such a difference may be due to Innate 
capacity, that Is, the individual who can not count 
above ten may have a mental defect. Such an in- 
dividual may be at the low end of the scale on a 
curve of distribution of mental traits. In some 
primitive cultures, however, an Individual can not 
count above ten not because he Is at the lower end 
of the curve, but because the culture of these 
peoples does not have a system of counting that 
goes further than ten In number. In another and 
higher culture the same individual might be able 
to solve problems by the use of calculus. Theo- 
retically, it Is conceivable that samples of these 
two peoples might not vary biologically, although 
their cultures do. So in thinking of comparisons 
of peoples, It is the samples of the peoples as a 
whole, thought of as averages or frequency dis- 


tributions, that should be compared; or else if 
Individuals be compared, they should be drawn 
from the same relative positions in the curve of 
distribution. The illustration just presented is of 
course an extreme one. Another illustration is 
that an Eskimo and a civilized European may be 
equally uncleanly in their habits; but in the case 
of the Eskimo it may be due to lack of cultural 
provisions for cleanliness while In the European 
It may be due to an Inferior psychological equip- 
ment. In this case Individuals compared are not 
from the same relative position on the scale of 
variation. The psychological basis for cleanli- 
ness of the Eskimo may be the same as that of the 
European, but the cultural difficulties of keeping 
clean are much greater among the Eskimo. 

It Is therefore seen that Individuals or popu- 
lations may differ biologically and that cultures 
may also differ. In cases where cultural-blolog- 
ical-behavlor differs and the biological factor Is 
constant, the differences are cultural and the 
differences may be characterized as differences in 
cultural traits. On the other hand where the 
differences cannot be accounted for as being 
due to culture, they may be characterized 
as due to variation in psychological traits. 
The term, cultural trait, does not refer so much 
to the material features of culture as to such 
parts of culture as knowledge, custom, belief, art 


and the various ways of doing things; and of 
course does not mean that the material objects 
of culture have traits in the same manner in which 
the material organs and substances integrated 
into the human body have traits. Nevertheless 
the term is a useful descriptive term, as for in- 
stance, in the statement that in a particular situ- 
ation cleanliness is a cultural trait not a racial 
trait, or in the case where the people of a nation 
who do not change biologically over a period of 
time, at different periods during this time display 
quite different cultural traits. 


Popular tendency to confuse the cultural and 
the psychological or, as Kroeber phrases it, the 
social and the mental, probably results in an over- 
emphasis of the psychological and an under- 
emphasis of the cultural. This is particularly 
noticeable in accounting for the traits of the sexes. 
Women, for instance, are supposed to have an 
absorbing Interest in purely personal affairs and 
relationships while men are more interested in 
objective discussions of movements and events. 
This difference is frequently commented upon in 


considering the entrance of women into politics 
and into business. The somewhat intimate rela- 
tionship between women and children is supposed 
to account for this difference on biological 
grounds. As a biological explanation it is a bit 
mystical. It seems more plausible to seek the 
explanation in the differences in daily activities 
of men and women. The work of men takes 
them more Into the world of events, social move- 
ments and business. Whereas woman's restricted 
sphere of the family, centring around husband 
and children and social friendships, seems more 
personal. So that while women may be more 
interested in the personal than men, this differ- 
ence is either wholly due to culture or else is 
greatly accentuated by culture. Women are said 
also not to be averse to methods Involving slight 
deceptions, at least apparently they resort more 
readily than men to subterfuge or other less direct 
but Ingenious ways of obtaining their ends. This 
observation, if true, may be intended to apply to 
the fields of the more purely personal relation- 
ships and not for Instance to the spheres of busl- 
;iess activity. This Is popularly supposed to be a 
feminine trait, meaning a hereditary biological 
trait, yet close observers have attributed its 
origin to a cultural situation where men hold 
economic and social power. Men are thus more 
direct and frank in their actions, while with women 


there is a more or less variable pressure to be 
indirect in the pursuit of their aims. And even 
such a trait as modesty which seems so closely 
identified with the distinctive biological character- 
istics of women is certainly greatly emphasized by 
social conditions. 

A great many of these so-called feminine traits 
are analyzed and their cultural aspects explained 
by Mrs. Coolidge in her most interesting book, 
Why Women are So. Such a study as Mrs. 
Coolidge has made, while it does not segregate 
and measure the influence of original nature and 
of culture, certainly does demonstrate quite satis- 
factorily that there is a popular tendency to 
attribute much that is cultural to hereditary 
biological factors. Popular opinion describes a 
large assortment of traits as feminine, perhaps 
a slightly smaller number as masculine, and a more 
or less vague list as common to both the sexes. If 
these traits were considered from the purely 
biological point of view, the list of feminine and 
of masculine traits would probably be much 
smaller and certainly much less prominent, or if 
plotted In curves there would be great overlapping 
of the curves. The great division of labor along 
sex lines found all through society, while perhaps 
in part occasioned by biological differences, cer- 
tainly results in an exaggeration in the popular 
mind of the biological differences between the 


sexes. The point under consideration is not an 
inquiry as to what biological differences do exist. 
There are morphological differences, quite 
probably emotional differences, and there may be 
indeed some intellectual differences. But what 
should be pointed out is that these emotional and 
intellectual differences are popularly exaggerated 
by reading the psychological into the cultural in- 
fluences, a confusion of the two factors. 

There are several reasons why cultural traits 
tend to be popularly interpreted as biological 
traits. The effect of culture on an individual is 
carried around by that individual in the forms of 
habit, training, education, technique, conditioned 
reflexes. These acquired ways of doing things are 
seen as part of an individual as truly as his physi- 
ognomy is. The association is almost as close. 
They become a part of his psychological self and 
are generally more or less permanently descrip- 
tive of the personality. The concept of the 
original nature of man does not frequently appear 
in the ordinary judgments of life. It takes some 
special training and imagination to see the original 
nature of man beneath his cultural exterior, for it 
Is only in special situations in life where such pene- 
trating observation is called for. Man as nature 
plus nurture is thus popularly seen as nature. 
Acquired characteristics are thought to be so in- 
tegral a part of an individual as to be hereditary. 


Indeed it required special research to disprove 
this. So it seems very natural to interpret cul- 
tural traits as psychological traits. 

In attempting to formulate the concepts of 
the social heritage and the biological nature of 
man, it has been seen that a di.fficulty lies in the 
confusion of these two ideas due to the general 
tendency to consider the cultural influence on be- 
havior as biological. There is also another 
source of confusion. This does not concern be- 
havior so much as the products of behavior. But 
the results are similar in that the cultural in- 
fluence is obscured and the biological influence 
is magnified. Consider, for instance, the ap- 
pearance of some hitherto undeveloped object 
of material culture, say, a steam engine. What 
are the factors that operated to make the 
steam engine? Obviously one facto-r is mental 
ability. Also the formerly invented and pre- 
pared materials that go to make up the steam 
engine, and the existing state of knowledge, 
are another factor. These two factors: are 
quite different in nature but are quite def- 
initely two general factors operating to pro- 
duce the steam engine. It could not be produced 
without the mental ability, nor could it be pro- 
duced without scientific knowledge and without 
materials in a certain degree of previous prepar- 
ation. The factor of mental ability is always 


recognized. But very often one does not appre- 
ciate the cultural factor, that Is, one does not 
think how dependent an invention is on previous 
Inventions and on the previously developed state 
of knowledge. The steam engine could not have 
been Invented, for instance, without a knowledge 
of fire, combustion, vaporization, the metals, the 
wheel, the piston, valves, the screw and numerous 
other Inventions and processes. The existing 
state of the social heritage Is thus a very Im- 
portant factor In the Invention of a particular 
cultural object. The cave man, had he the abil- 
ity of a modern genius, could not have Invented 
the steam engine, living as he did on the plane 
of culture existing during the last ice age. Pre- 
sented in this manner. It Is readily seen that the 
cultural factor Is necessary and as important as Is 
the factor of mental ability. But popularly there 
is full recognition of mental ability but a neglect 
of cultural influence. When Edison makes an 
Invention, credit Is given to his ability and rightly 
so because the social heritage is the heritage of 
many, yet only a few utilize it to make discoveries 
and Inventions. The variable factor Is the In- 
dividual and Is therefore thought of as the causa- 
tive factor. He Is not thought of as original 
nature plus the social heritage. 

In a somewhat similar way the culture of Great 
Britain and her colonies is seen as the product of 


the ability of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The de- 
pendence of British culture upon the inventions 
and achievements of other peoples is not called 
to the attention. To think of this implies a cer- 
tain historical and cultural knowledge, not 
possessed by many. Indeed the total knowledge 
on the origin and diffusion of inventions is quite 
limited. But many peoples of various periods 
from different parts of the world have been asso- 
ciated with the development of the modern cul- 
ture possessed by the British. It has been quite 
customary to attribute the Greek civilization in 
a somewhat complete fashion to the genius of the 
Greek people. Indeed it is only recently that re- 
search is establishing how much Greece borrowed 
from the peoples to the north, the east and the 
south. Great Britain has borrowed many times 
as much as she has invented. But even admitting 
a differentiation between what a people has in- 
vented and what borrowed, the concept of cultural 
evolution Is not conceived in any full sense. That 
is to say, it is not seen that culture would have 
changed and increased from the time of the 
Angles and the Saxons until now, more or less 
irrespective of the particular peoples that may 
have been associated with this culture. Such an 
Idea is not common, and indeed it is seldom noted 
in intellectual circles, very largely for the reason 
that at the present state of our knowledge the 


laws governing the growth and change of culture 
are not dearly and quantitatively formulated. 
Culture grows because of mental ability, but the 
existing basis of culture is a very important factor 
in determining the nature and rate of growth of 

The prevailing status of general opinion is 
seen from the fairly complete identification of 
i:he state of culture of a people with their 
abilities. The Egyptians produced the Egyptian 
culture, the Indian culture is a product of Indian 
ability, as the European culture is a product of 
European ability. And the Hottentot culture 
is an index of the ability of that people. So pop- 
ular opinion runs. There may be variation in 
the abilities of peoples but the state of culture is 
not a good index. The varying social inherit- 
ances may be correlated with the abilities of peo- 
ples, but the proof is not clear and certainly the 
correlation is not vdry close, for the very reason 
that purely cultural or historical causes are such 
an important factor in determining a particular 
culture. These questions of the relations of cul- 
ture to mental ability and of the causes and laws 
of the growth and change of culture are far-reach- 
ing and will be considered further later on. But 
enough has been said to show that the purely 
cultural influence tends to be obscured and over- 
shadowed by the biological factor. 


The overemphasis of the biological influence 
as contrasted to the cultural influence has certain 
roots in the facts of everyday life. The results 
of the training are seen through the eyes of youth 
very much in terms of personal achievement. 
Honors, prizes, grades, diplomas, emphasize this 
fact. In the classroom the same culture is pre- 
sented to all, the variations in results are varia- 
tions in personal abilities. Honors or diplomas 
are not given to the textbooks or the teacher. 
Variations in social opportunity are seen as some- 
thing to be grasped. And this utilization of 
opportunity for a greater culture is interpreted 
in terms of personal ability. Moral training of 
the young is a matter of doing right or wrong, of 
praise or blame, an emphasis of the personal and 
a neglect of the cultural. Achievement reflects 
the glory of the ego and the hero is given full 
credit. There is no particular occasion to give 
the credit to so Impersonal a factor as culture. 
The particular political party in power claims 
credit for a period of prosperity even though it 
be a matter of crops and rainfall. And failure, 
particularly in the other fellow, is a matter of 
personal inefficiency. Especially among the 
wealthy classes is it customary to attribute their 
position almost solely to ability and to make the 
converse interpretation for those not at the top — 
a very comfortable theory. In many such simple 


dally estimations the influence of culture is not ap- 
preciated. Thus a mental pattern is ready- 
made, prepared since youth, and one brings such 
a ready-made pattern to the study of sociology or 
to the reading of history, which it may be re- 
marked is also usually written from this same 
mental pattern. 

In intellectual centres, the overemphasis of the 
biological is in part occasioned by the prevailing 
status of the various sciences; the prestige of 
biology among the social sciences has been very 
great, because of the extraordinary significance of 
the discovery of natural selection and the emphasis 
on evolution due to the researches of Darwin and 
Wallace. The significance was so overshadowing 
that it seemed to cast something like a hypnotic 
spell over others doing research. The biological 
terminology was borrowed quite widely; and it 
became almost a fad to refer to biological causes 
and to make biological interpretations for many 
social phenomena. Of recent years the tendency 
to get away from this spell is noticeable but the 
rise of the eugenists has given added emphasis to 
the importance of biology for sociology. 

Eugenics centres attention on biological varia- 
tion, with the purpose of improving biological 
ability and eliminating biological inferiority. 
The eugenists are so impressed with the impor- 
tance of racial stock that scant attention Is given 


to the social heritage and there is very little 
understanding of its nature. All through the 
writings of the eugenists is found the implication 
that a particular culture is quite simply and 
directly the ability of the racial stock. They 
do not seem to realize that cultural growth 
is caused largely by purely cultural causes. 
They see inventions and improvement chiefly in 
terms of mental ability, failing to appreciate the 
extent of the dependence of future change on 
existing cultural elements. The result of the 
spread of the eugenics idea is, like the discovery 
of natural selection, an overemphasis of the sig- 
nificance of the biological factor in social progress. 
The discussion has gone sufficiently far to show 
something of the concepts of the original nature 
of man and of the social heritage, and of the sig- 
nificance of such a delineation for sociology. Hu- 
man behavior never occurs except in a cultural 
milieu and the social heritage could not grow ex- 
cept by the group activities of biological men. 
For this reason, to some an attempt to segregate 
these factors may not seem necessary. But such 
an attempted segregation is quite necessary, for 
the two factors meet in all social phenomena and 
are indeed the occasion of it. An understanding 
of social phenomena and the handling of modern 
social problems makes desirable a consideration 
of these two factors, in very much the same way 


as there is occasion to know something of the 
relative influence of heredity and environment. 
In describing these conceptions it has been shown 
that popularly and in intellectual centres the ten- 
dency is to confuse these factors, obscuring the 
cultural and exaggerating the biological, an over- 
emphasis of biology and a neglect of sociology. 



The concepts of the social heritage and the in- 
herited nature of man are of such theoretical im- 
portance, that it is desirable to examine some of 
the definitions in sociology which are generally 
recognized as important, to see whether these two 
concepts throw any light on these definitions. It 
is realized that the discussions of the scope and 
function of sociology, the definitions of society, 
social evolution, social mind, etc., are a field of 
considerable magnitude about which there has 
been much controversy for many years. To enter 
at all comprehensively into this field would in- 
volve an extensive consideration of terminology 
and the discussion of many writers. There will 
be no attempt here to settle these moot points. 


The purpose is rather to examine some of these 
more important sociological conceptions, as form- 
ulated by certain representative sociologists, to 
see what they mean in terms of the social heritage 
and of the original nature of man, and particularly 
to see if this differentiation helps to clarify these 

Of the founders of sociology, Comte was freer 
from the confusion of the biological with the 
sociological factors than some writers who 
followed him. The prestige of biological science 
was at that time not so great, and Comte "^ con- 
ceived of sociology a good deal in terms of what 
has been called culture, and the influences he con- 
sidered were in large part cultural. He speaks 
of the constancy of the human factor, the influence 
of former generations as a source of modification 
of the social movement, and the preponderant 
importance of historical analysis and the auxiliary 
aspect of biological considerations. 

To Spencer is due the conception of the funda- 
mental types of evolution, the organic and the 
superorganic. In the organization of his system 
of the sciences he recognized the difference in 
nature of these two fields of evolution; but when 
he came to work out the development of the super- 
organic In his Principles of Sociology, he con- 

7 A. Comte, Thr Positive Philosophy, Vol. II, Chap. IV. 


earned himself very largely with a consideration 
of the influence of the biological factor on the 
superorganic. At this time the development of 
biology was far-reaching in significance. Spencer 
had worked a great deal in the biological field 
before writing his Principles of Sociology and 
biology is certainly most prominent throughout 
his sociological writings. Customs, organiza- 
tions and institutions are seen as the result of 
man, physical, emotional and intellectual. There 
is comparatively little account of such cultural 
phenomena in terms of culture itself. 

Giddlngs has not been concerned particularly 
with culture as such. He has studied the 
psychological nature of society and association. 
To him sociology is the study of society and 
society IS the result of such psychological ac- 
tivities as like response to stimuli, interstlmula- 
tion and response, concerted activities and 
consciousness of kind. The shift in recent years 
has been somewhat away from culture and history 
in the direction of the psychological nature of 
society. However, these excellently laid psycho- 
logical foundations of sociology do not alone 
explain a particular type of social heritage. It 
Is quite necessary to consider the historical 
process entirely apart from the psychological 
nature of collective behavior. 


What then Is the relation of society and the 
social heritage? GIddlngs defines society "as 
any plural number of sentient creatures more 
or less continuously subjected to common stimuli, 
to differing stimuli, and to interstimulatlon, and 
responding thereto In like behavior, concerted 
activity or cooperation, as well as in unlike or 
competitive activity; and becoming therefore with 
developing intelligence coherent through a dom- 
inating consciousness of kind, while always suffi- 
ciently conscious of differences to Insure a 
measure of individual liberty." ® 

According to this definition, society is a plural 
number of individuals manifesting group behav- 
ior. Other definitions similarly emphasize the 
group and group behavior. Society is therefore 
different from the social heritage. The social 
heritage may affect the group and group behavior 
but it is probably often thought of as the product 
of society. The social heritage, however, is not 
solely the product of human association occur- 
ring at a particular period, of course, but Is a 
certain surviving product over a very long period 
of time. The existing social heritage plays an 
important part in creating newer forms of culture 
as truly as does collective behavior. It may be 
claimed that the social heritage is not only the 

®F. H. Giddings, Descriptive and Historical Sociology, p. 9. 


product of collective activity but also of individ- 
ual activity, particularly«»as certain objects of the 
material culture appear to be the result of 
individual activity; but in such cases the individ- 
ual functions because of his life in society. The 
social heritage, especially some of these learned 
ways of doing things, such as social organization 
and rules of collective procedure, quite directly 
concern such psychological activities as response to 
stimuli, concerted activity and consciousness of 
kind, as truly as does the psychological nature in- 
herent in man. 

Conceptions of society should therefore not 
neglect the factor of social heritage. Society 
is, according to Giddings' definition, a plural 
number of psychological human beings acting in 
certain variously defined collective ways. But 
this definition of collective behavior says nothing 
with reference to the cultural media. It de- 
scribes rather the nature of social human behavior 
either with or without a culture. The particular 
nature of the culture, however, determines the 
forms of the concerted activity and to a certain 
extent the amount. For instance, within or be- 
tween societies the amount and nature of the 
fighting that occurs will depend on the type of 
culture. Culture certainly conditions the re- 
sponse to stimuli. Giddings has therefore em- 
phasized the psychological nature of society and 


his account of society tends to be in terms of the 
original nature of man. 

It is interesting to observe how some of the 
organismic theories of the state and some of the 
earlier conceptions of the social mind attempted 
to deal with the superorganic. The writers of 
these theories did not confuse the cultural and the 
biological in the manner discussed in preceding 
paragraphs, that is, by interpreting a particular 
social phenomenon through the psychological ac- 
tivity of man. Instead they confounded the na- 
ture of the whole superorganic of a particular or- 
ganized people with the biological nature of man. 
This they did by distinctly naive analogies such 
as likening the transportation system to the circu- 
latory system of the human body. These at- 
tempts seem fantastic but they did truly imply 
an Idea of the superorganic as such. The reac- 
tion away from these organismic theories swung 
far away from the purely cultural influences and 
in the direction of the psychological Influences 
which were becoming better understood through 
the rise of the biological and psychological 

What does the social mind mean in terms of 
the psychological nature of man and In terms 
of culture? It is very difficult to get a clear idea 
of the social mind in any terms. The Idea of 
the social mind seems to have arisen from notions 


of society as an organism. Spencer has likened 
the deliberative assemblies of modern society to 
the cerebellum. In popular conceptions the social 
judgments show the operation of the social 
mind. Mob activity has likewise been charac- 
terized as a manifestation of the mob mind. 
Giddings has defined the social mind "as the like 
responsiveness to stimulation, the concurrent feel- 
ing and intelligence, the consciousness of kind 
and the concerted volition of two or more indi- 
viduals." ^ He thus eliminates the idea that the 
social mind is a separate entity possessed by a 
group but not by the individual, to which most 
modern writers are agreed. But, it is observed, 
the innate psychological traits are particularly 
emphasized in this definition. These psycholog- 
ical traits function, however, in cultural media 
and are affected by cultural experiences, as is 
true of the individual mind. The mind of the In- 
dividual is generally thought of as the inherited 
mental equipment as modified by learning and 
training; indeed the knowledge and education as 
aspects of the mind are sometimes emphasized 
more than the inherited factor. So at times that 
part of our social heritage known as knowledge, 
science and the like Is thought of as a part of the 

»F. H. Giddings, Descriptive and Historical Sociology, p. 


mind of the race, perhaps the social mind. In 
any case, in referring to the social mind, it should 
be remembered that the purely psychological man- 
ifestations which are an important factor of what 
is called the social mind are much affected by that 
inherited portion of our culture known as knowl- 
edge, science, belief, custom, etc. 

Are ^'social problems" to be explained in terms 
of culture, of the original nature of man or of 
both? Many courses in universities and colleges 
and many textbooks in sociology deal with what 
are called social problems, such as problems of 
industry, labor, the family, immigration, the 
woman's movement, and crime. These problems 
are often problems of adjustment between the 
social heritage and the original nature of man. 
Sometimes the emphasis is rather largely on the 
cultural side, as for instance, in an issue concern- 
ing the compensation of workmen for injuries be- 
cause of industrial accidents, and sometimes the 
considerations are markedly on the side of the ori- 
ginal nature of man as in the divorce problem 
and in the treatment of mental defect. While 
often these problems arise from interrelations be- 
tween the two planes, the organic and the super- 
organic, the term, social conditions, can be used 
interchangeably with culture; thus when the social 
conditions of two sections are said to be different, 


what IS probably meant is that the cultures are 
different, leading of course to different cultural 
manifestations of social behavior. 

Kroeber ^^ has recently made an attempt to 
show that the subject matter of sociology is cul- 
ture, apparently relatively free from any consider- 
ation of the organic factor. His attempt is quite 
bold considering the agreement existing as to the 
nature of society and the acceptance of society 
as the subject matter of sociology, and is also 
significant because of his logical and consistent 
analysis which sets forth the importance of cul- 
ture as a subject of science. Briefly his thesis 
flows from his classification of sciences according 
to planes, the inorganic, the vital organic, the 
mental organic, and the superorganic. The inor- 
ganic, including chemistry and physics, is on quite 
a different plane from the vital organic, including 
biology. Thus the biologist accepts life and ''in- 
quires into its forms and processes as such.'* 
That is, he expresses organic life in organic terms 
as on the organic planes. It may be possible to 
express life in terms of chemistry, *'but that is not 
the first task of the biologist, else his biology 
would be pure physics and chemistry." The chem- 
ist and the physicist may be on one plane and 

10 A. L. Kroeber, "The Possibility of a Social Psychology," 
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXIII (1913). No. 5, p. 


the biologist on another, but it does not follow 
by analogy that the planes of psychology and of 
culture are similarly separated. It is indeed pos- 
sible to exaggerate the planar separations of bio- 
logy and of physics and chemistry. Heredity 
may be classified by a charting in organic terms 
but a knowledge of the effect of chemical sub- 
stances on mutations would not be without inter- 
est for biology. Certainly there is tremendous 
demand for an understanding of the interrelations 
of culture and the psychological behavior of man, 
the effect of culture on behavior and the effect 
of behavior on culture. This is testified by the 
great body of writing and the number of courses 
of study on these interrelations, both in sociology 
and in the special social sciences. Consider, for 
instance, criminology. The cause of crime may 
be economic or due to mental defect; and 
prison reform, probation systems, indeterminate 
sentences, prison discipline and self-government 
in prisons all involve interrelations of culture 
and behavior. Neither can it be maintained 
that the study of crime is the domain solely of 
psychology by practice or by theory. And even 
on the most strict theoretical grounds, particular 
cultural forms are not determined solely by cul- 
tural forces flowing out of previous or contem- 
poraneous cultural stages ; a very important crea- 
tive factor is the psychological nature of man. 


It Is also a distinctly limiting factor to cultural 
forms. It is true, that in the study of society, 
social phenomena, social problems, social organi- 
zation, and social processes, the cultural and his- 
torical factors have been neglected and there has 
been an over-interpretation in terms of the psy- 
chological and the biological factors; but such 
a condition does not justify a swing completely 
away from the psychological and wholly to the 

In conclusion, then, two factors In social phe- 
nomena have been recognized and their signifi- 
cance for analysis shown. Usually the cause of 
the phenomenon is Inaccurately thought to be 
largely biological or psychological and only 
slightly cultural. The cause of unemployment, 
for instance, was thought by many to be due to 
human nature, that is, to laziness, to unwillingness 
to work, to a desire to loaf, to lack of ambition 
or to many other psychological traits of the un- 
employed. The cultural causes of unemployment 
are not the first to be seen. But as a result of in- 
vestigation it is found that a vast amount of un- 
employment Is due to the cyclical and seasonal 
nature of industrial life, and to a particular organ- 
ization of business which could be greatly im- 
proved by a good system of employment agen- 
cies. While It Is a fact that the general tendency 
is to overemphasize human nature as a cause in 


the whole field, still the preceding analyses do 
not warrant any dogmatic doctrines. The dogma 
of the pure environmentalist is as untrue as the 
dogma of the biologist as previously indicated in 
the study of crime. The investigation should 
concern both factors and the facts in each case 
will determine the relative significance of each 
factor. There are perhaps several reasons why 
good methodology should sanction as a first step 
a consideration of the cultural factor. In the 
first place the cultural factor is directly connected 
with a description of the phenomenon; a descrip- 
tion being necessary before an analysis of causes 
is undertaken. An account of the cultural factor 
is in part a history and an account of contem- 
porary cultural relationships. Furtnermore, it 
is frequently possible to make such an account 
with a fair degree of accuracy. It is usually 
much more difficult to describe the factor of hu- 
man nature. Human nature is very elusive; our 
ignorance of its laws is great; measurement is 
difficult; and prejudices are strong. Further- 
more the influence of the factor, human nature, 
can be seen usually much more clearly after the 
cultural factor is understood. These remarks, 
while applying specifically to analyses of partic- 
ular social phenomena, are also applicable to 
accounts of cultural development in general. 



In Part II the discussion will concern some of the 
ways in which culture has grown and changed. 
There was a time when culture was very small. 
Now it is very great and wonderful. We call it 
civilization. How has civilization grown to be 
what it is? Has the psychological development 
of the race been the cause of its growth? Can 
the nature of its growth and change be described 
in a few simple processes? Can we deduce a few 
leading causes or laws of Its evolution? What 
of Its future development? Can it be consciously 
directed and effectively controlled? These ques- 
tions naturally occur to the mind thinking of 
social evolution. In a general way the questions 
suggest the nature of the inquiries which follow. 
They have been the subject matter of investiga- 
tion of sociologists and other students of the 
social sciences for many years, and are listed here 
not so much with the idea of giving a satisfactory 
answer to them, but rather as suggesting the 
general nature of the topic under discussion. 
More particularly we shall raise the question 
whether the biological evolution of man is an es- 


sentlal factor in the growth of civilization, that 
is, whether culture may not develop when there 
is no biological change. We shall also try to 
describe in broad outline some of the processes 
by which civilization has come about. 


The topics referred to in the preceding para- 
graph have been the theme of a study known as 
social evolution. The publication of the Origin 
of Species, setting forth a theory of evolution of 
species in terms of natural selection, heredity and 
variation, created a deep impression on the an- 
thropologists and sociologists. The conception 
of evolution was so profound that the changes in 
society were seen as a manifestation of evolution 
and there was an attempt to seek the causes of 
these social changes in terms of variation and se- 
lection, very much as changes in species had been 
accounted for. History had formerly been 
largely descriptive of events of a political, militar- 
istic, economic or personal nature. But follow- 
ing Darwin there was a great impetus to sociolo- 
gists to seek causes. In terms of processes and 
laws, of more generalized social changes such 


as the origin and development of social institu- 
tions. The tedious task of recording facts and 
collecting data was not abandoned but greater 
emphasis was laid on the search for causes. Pre- 
liminary to the search for causes, however, at- 
tempts were made to establish the development 
of particular social institutions in successive 
stages, an evolutionary series, a particular stage 
necessarily preceding another. The search for 
laws led to many hypotheses regarding factors 
such as geographical location, climate, migra- 
tion, group conflict, racial ability, the evolution 
of mental ability, and such principles as varia- 
tion, natural selection, and survival of the fit. A 
half-century or more of investigations on such 
theories has yielded some results, but the achieve- 
ments have not been up to the high hopes enter- 
tained shortly after- the publication of Darwin's 
theory of natural selection. 

The inevitable series of stages in the develop- 
ment of social institutions has not only not been 
proven but has been disproven. For illustration, 
the history of a particular social institution among 
a particular people may show a series of forms; 
among other peoples, though, no such similar 
series of forms has appeared. The attempts to 
find laws of heredity, variation and selection in the 
evolution of social institutions have produced few 
results either vital or significant. These results 


are in the main only analogous and Illustrative. 
Strong claims have been made for climate and 
race, but for many of the generalizations the evi- 
dence is not authoritatively conclusive. The 
field of psychological causes is in the stage of 
being opened up. Certainly the study of social 
evolution is still in the process of its early de- 
velopment and no such impressive conclusions 
have been as yet forthcoming, as the theory of ev- 
olution for biology. 

The facts of social evolution will be recorded, 
however, In greater and greater number; some of 
the work that has already been done will serve as 
foundation for further researches; and eventually 
the processes, causes and laws will become 
clearer. It Is hoped that the analyses which 
follow will add something to the knowledge of 
this field of Investigation. 

The following discussion Is more accurately 
described as relating to the development of cul- 
ture rather than of social evolution. Social evo- 
lution and cultural evolution are not the same, as 
society and culture are not the same. Culture 
may be thought of as the accumulated products 
of human society, and includes the use of material 
objects as well as social Institutions and social 
ways of doing things. Hence cultural change Is 
the change In these products. Social evolution is 
the evolution of society and society Is usually de- 


scribed in psychological terms, such as sociability, 
gregariousness, association, response to stimuli 
and consciousness of kind, and not in cultural 
terms. If society be thus strictly defined, then 
social evolution would mean the evolution of such 
mechanisms of association. If these mechanisms 
of association be conceived in purely psychologi- 
cal terms, that is, as inherent psychological mech- 
anisms, then it may be questioned whether there 
has been any social evolution in many centuries, 
for the inherited biological mechanisms of associa- 
tion may not have changed for a long time. 
There have been changes in response to stimuli, 
but it may very well be that such changes are in 
the cultural nature of the stimuli or responses and 
not in the inherited psychological nature of the re- 
sponses. It may be that there has been change 
in the consciousness of kind, but the question is 
whether such change has been in the cultural 
nature of kind or in the inherited psychological 
nature of consciousness. 

If social evolution be interpreted in this strict 
psychological conception of society, then the evolu- 
tion in the psychological mechanisms of associa- 
tion becomes essentially biological evolution ; and 
hence social evolution is merely a phase of biolog- 
ical evolution. But social evolution is usually not 
so narrowly understood. If social evolution 
means changes in the mechanisms of association 


then such changes may be quite truly cultural, for 
there are cultural mechanisms of association just 
as there are biological mechanisms of association. 
Social evolution, in such case, consists largely in 
the evolution of social organizations and social 
ways of behavior, as seen in religion, art, law, 
custom, etc. Social evolution thus includes a 
large part of the evolution of culture, virtually 
all but material culture. And if the objects of 
material culture are the products of social influ- 
ence and behavior then the evolution of the whole 
of culture is a part of social evolution. Social 
evolution in addition includes the possible evolu- 
tion of the inherited mechanisms of association 
which are not part of the field of cultural evolu- 

However these definitions may be settled,^ and 
irrespective of the overlapping of these fields, the 
subject matter under discussion in the pages which 
follow is the development of culture. Even from 
the point of view of social evolution it is thought 
that the study of changes in culture, rather than 
in society, is desirable methodology because the 
influence of the biological factor can be seen more 
clearly. In the previous chapter it has been 
pointed out that confusion has resulted from 
failure to segregate the cultural and the biological 

iPor further discussion, see Ellwood, "Theories of Cultural 
Evolution," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXIII, No. 6. 


factors. The writers on social evolution have 
seldom attempted to differentiate these factors in 
explaining cultural changes. Frequently authors 
have seemed to assume that marked cultural 
changes have been due to a biological evolution of 
inherent mental ability, while a few others have 
recorded cultural changes without apparent con- 
cern as to whether these changes have been due 
to changes in the original nature of man or not. 


Theoretically, cultural changes may be ac- 
counted for in terms of changes in the biological 
nature of man or in purely cultural factors. Thus 
Lowie's explanation of the origins of the clan as 
the result of property rights and of modes of resi- 
dence after marriage is a study of a purely cultural 
cause of a cultural change.^ Such a change to a 
clan form of organization is not occasioned by a 
change in inherited human nature but may have 
come about as a result of the development of 
property and a change in residence habits. In 

2 Robert H. Lowie, "Family and Sib," American Anthropol- 
ogist, New Series, Vol. XXI (1919), PP. 28-41. 


this explanation nothing is said or implied 
regarding the change in the biological nature 
of man. Similarly the instability of the modern 
family and the recent changes in the family 
as a functioning organization may be explained 
wholly on a cultural basis. These changes 
are due largely to the discovery of the 
uses of steam and its application to mechanical 
industry, the rise of cities, the introduction of 
women into industry and the discovery of methods 
of birth control. Changes in the family may 
thus be explained without reference to causes due 
to changes in the biological nature of man. Man 
may remain biologically the same, yet important 
changes in a social organization occur. 

On the other hand, the causes of changes in 
culture may be sought in changes in the biological 
nature of man. Thus SoUas ^ seems to assume 
a close correlation between biological evolution 
and cultural evolution, implying that the heights 
of cultural attainments of the various peoples are 
indications of the steps in their biological evolu- 
tion. For instance, he tries to show that peoples 
to-day with cultures very similar to the cultures 
of the peoples living during the ice ages in Europe 
are of the same racial type as these earlier peoples. 
Thus, the Bushmen of modern times are the same 

3W. J. Sollas, Ancient Hunters, Chapters VII, IX and XII, 
»0d pp. 302, 303. 


peoples racially as the Aurignacians of the last ice 
age in Europe, the Aurignacians having migrated 
In early times to southern Africa, he thinks. His 
most important evidence seems to be that their 
cultures are much alike. So also the Australians 
are the Mousterians, and the Eskimo are the 
Magdalenians. Such reasoning leads to the con- 
clusion that among the peoples possessing simpler 
cultures, the heights of cultural possibilities are 
limited by the stages of biological evolution of 
the various peoples. So we have an Interpreta- 
tion of cultural evolution In terms of biological 
evolution. In fact it is quite usually taken for 
granted that the civilized peoples are superior 
biologically, particularly in the inherited mental 
qualities, to our ancestors the cave men, because 
we have a superior culture. It seems to follow as 
a corollary that our superior culture is due to our 
higher mental evolution, i. e., biological evolu- 
tion. In fact, It is quite generally assumed that 
the status of the culture of any people is an in- 
dex of the stage of their inherent mental develop- 
ment as a race. For if a people had more inher- 
ent mental ability, then their culture would have 
been developed to a higher degree. This attitude 
is what Is meant when it Is said that the evolution 
of culture is interpreted in terms of the biological 

Another illustration may make the point 


clearer. A number of anthropologists, par- 
ticularly Lewis H. Morgan, held the following 
theory with regard to the origin of the clan.* 
In the clan, descent is reckoned through the 
mother only, kinship being counted among the 
relations on the mother's side only and marriage 
is exogamous. This peculiar method of tracing 
kinship was supposed to be a stage in an evolution- 
ary series. Before the metronymic stage it was 
thought that there was no permanent marriage 
of pairs. There was promiscuity in sexual rela- 
tions. Eventually man's sexual relations became 
more stable, and organized sexual relations 
emerged. Tracing descent through the mother 
was natural, since there was uncertainty about the 
father; hence kinship on the father's side was not 
counted. In so far as such a change from a state 
of promiscuous sexual relations to a family tracing 
descent through the mother occurred as a result 
of evolution in the inherent sexual nature of men 
and women, then we have a cultural change 
accounted for in biological terms. This theory 
is discredited now largely as a result of the 
accumulation of additional data. There is no 
evidence to show that a state of so-called sexual 
promiscuity ever existed and there are many prim- 
itive peoples with very crude cultures who count 
as kin the blood relatives of both parents, as we 

* Lewis H. Morgan, Ancient Society, pp. 4.18, 4^3'^ 


do. A change from promiscuity to the organized 
family could have occurred without any biological 
change in the inherent sexual nature of men and 
women. Culture may have brought about differ- 
ent habits without a change in the germ plasm. 

Culture may therefore have changed possibly 
because of changes in the biological nature of 
man or possibly because of cultural processes. 
There is of course a psychological side to cul- 
tural changes, since culture could not change ex- 
cept through the medium of human beings. A 
consideration of the psychological side to cultural 
change unfolds the whole question of the relations 
of psychology and sociology. The psychological 
factor in social change is far-reaching, with many 
ramifications. We are not at this point con- 
cerned with this whole problem, but we are inter- 
ested particularly in the relation of biological 
evolution to cultural evolution. We wish par- 
ticularly to inquire whether biological evolution 
in man has occurred during the growth of our 
culture from its early beginnings in the glacial 
periods to its modern form which we call civiliza- 
tion. We are also interested in asking how, if cul- 
tural evolution does not depend on biological evo- 
lution, has culture grown, and particularly by 
what cultural processes. Both these questions 
will be considered in the pages which follow. 
The discussion of biological evolution will be 


postponed until we have considered the cultural 
factors in the growth of our civilization. We 
shall first review some of the actual facts of the 
early evolution of our culture. This is desirable 
in order to refresh the memory of the reader with 
certain records which will later serve as material 
for an attempt to chart some of the processes of 
cultural growth and also as material to be con- 
trasted with biological evolution. Having made 
this review, we shall discuss some of the processes 
of cultural growth and then consider the possible 
relation to biological evolution. We will now 
pass in review some of the facts of the origin and 
development of our culture. 


The earliest evidences of material culture are 
eoliths or *'dawn-stones.*' These eoliths are 
rough fragments of hard stones that might have 
been used as cutting implements or as scrapers. 
They have been found in considerable numbers 
over Europe, but so far no remains of early man 
have been found with them. It is not known 
positively that the eoliths were broken or fash- 
ioned by the hands of an animal. It is possible 


that these fragments may have been the result 
of forces of nature. They occur in deposits dat- 
ing back to the early beginnings of the Pleistocene 
period and possibly well back into the Pliocene. 
The Pleistocene is the period of the four glacial 
and the corresponding interglacial and postglacial 
periods. Its beginning is a half-million or more 
years ago. 

It is not until the third interglacial period, how- 
ever, that stone implements are found which are 
definitely known to have been artificially chipped. 
These implements are made apparently from 
accidental forms by a few retouches. Five or 
six forms have been classified; planing tools, 
scrapers, drills or borers, knives, hammerstones 
and hand stones. This industry is called the Pre- 
Chellean and existed 125,000 years ago according 
to Osborn's estimate.*^ Others have dated it an- 
other 100,000 years further back. But certainly 
125,000 years ago there was a material culture. 
Observations have been most frequent in Europe, 
and of course it cannot be said what future exca- 
vations may show. Only slight search has been 
made in Asia and the finding of remains of early 
culture Is to a certain extent accidental. 

The Chellean stone industry was fairly highly 
developed and quite extensive. Its date was 
around 100,000 years ago according to Osborn. 

5 Henry Fairfield Osborn, Mm of the Old Stone Age, 


The following references to the stone culture are 
from Osborn unless otherwise noted. The 
Chellean Industry is in two phases, the early phase 
showing the appearance of the characteristic al- 
mond-shaped **coup de potng^^ made from a no- 
dule of quartzite or flint, rather unsymmetrical, 
however, and with uneven edges. There were 
also improved scrapers, planes, and borers. In 
the late Chellean period, the "row/> de poing*^ is 
more oval, longer and pointed, but flaked on both 
sides. The workers were still dependent on 
chance shapes of shattered fragments. A some- 
what larger number of forms appear, disk forms, 
curved scrapers, "pointes," borers, pointed 
scrapers, knives, knives with coarse boring-point 
at one end, thick scrapers, and certain combin- 
ation tools. Within another 25,000 years and 
towards the close of the warm interglacial period, 
the stone industry reached a high degree cf 
development in the successive phases of the Acheu- 
lean industry. A number of new forms appeared : 
choppers, a chisel-like implement, points possibly 
used as darts or spearheads, thin and flat tri- 
angular pieces and the Levallois knife. There 
was an improvement in technique and a wider use 
of the flakes. 

The stonework tells only what they did have 
in stone, but does not indicate very satisfactorily 
what they did not have. Of course it can be told 


that they did not have the metals, but regarding 
such items as clothing, dwellings, use of bone, art, 
types of food, the record is more or less blank. 
No definite inferences can be made either as to the 
status of their social organization, the family, 
rules of marriage, religious ideas, customs and 
law. It should be observed, however, that some 
considerable development of these features of cul- 
ture at that time is quite possible. The abori- 
gines of Australia, for instance, have a crude 
stone techriique and the status of their material 
culture is low, yet their social organization is 
highly developed and their religious beliefs and 
practices are most elaborate. 

Beginning with the last glacial period appeared 
the Mousterian culture, some 50,000 or more 
years ago, and with this culture there have been 
found a good many skeletal remains of man. 
The people of this time lived in caves and the 
climate of central Europe was quite cold. There 
were several changes in stone technique and some 
new forms Some bone anvils from the foot and 
leg of the bison and the horse have been found 
and also some few bone implements of the awl 
type. In contact with the Mousterian culture 
appeared the Aurignacian culture, 25,000 or 
30,000 years ago. The Aurignacian culture in- 
cluded, in addition to the stone tools, a number 
of forms in bone and horn, such as blades, javelin 


points, smoothers, wedges, chisels, awls and 
needles. There was also that odd form, ap- 
parently a ceremonial staff, and usually called a 
*^baton de commandement,** Engraving and 
drawing were fairly well developed in this culture. 
These arts show a close observation of the animal 
form, the attainment of realism in a few lines, 
and a considerable ability to portray movement. 
Bas-reliefs of woman and a spear-thrower have 
been found, and a number of statuettes. In addi- 
tion to the rather long list of stone implements 
used in industrial life and the somewhat short 
list, apparently used in the chase, there were 
found in this culture a number of different forms 
of stone implements which are used in art. Paint 
is used and crucibles for mixing red and yellow 
oxides of iron have been found. The burial po- 
sitions and the presence in graves of objects use- 
ful in life suggest religious ideas. They lived in 
grottoes and many objects are found around the 
fire hearth. Much discussion has centred about 
the question of whether the Aurignaclan culture 
as found in stations in Europe was autochthonous 
or was brought in from the south along the shores 
of the Mediterranean. There is a good deal of 
evidence to support the latter view. 

With the Solutrean culture, possibly coming 
into Europe from west and south-central Asia, 
occurs the highly-developed new method of flak- 


ing stones by pressure rather than by blows. 
This method developed the fine laurel- and wil- 
low-leaf patterns, flaked all over with their 
smooth edges. Also the shouldered point and 
the barbed dart, for holding in the flesh, with a 
stem for attachment, is found. Animal sculpture 
began and also decorative art with geometric 

The culture of the old stone age, as seen in the 
remains, reached the apex of its development In 
the Magdalenlan period, which, according to 
Osborn, existed around 16,000 years ago. The 
work in flints was not, however, extraordinarily 
skilled, but work of an unusually high degree of 
skill In bone, ivory and horn existed, and particu- 
larly elaborate was the technique of the harpoon 
with double rows of barbs. There was an un- 
precedented variety of drills and borers. Many 
of the implements were richly adorned. The 
stone lamp was used and there is evidence of the 
th rowing-stick and possibly of bows and arrows. 
Most spectacular was the art In drawing, etching, 
painting and sculpture. The somewhat lengthy 
treatises that have been written on the art of the 
Magdalenlan period show it as an art culture 
quite comparable with later art periods In Greece 
and Italy. The material culture of the Magda- 
lenlan period Is similar to that found among the 
Eskimo to-day. In fact. If the material culture 


found among the Eskimo had lain buried for so 
long a time, the remains would be very similar to 
those of the Magdalenian period, with not so 
high a record in painting and drawing. A great 
deal is known about the social organization, re- 
ligious beliefs, literature, science, and customs of 
the Eskimo ; but, of course, it does not follow that 
the Magdalenian culture was in these respects the 
same, for the material culture does not determine 
the status of the other features of culture. 

Then comes the neolithic culture with polished 
flints, the axe, the hatchet, the pick, pottery, use 
of seeds and grains and knowledge of agriculture, 
the domestication of animals, the construction of 
houses. Later appear boats, the wheel, and the 
use of copper, bronze and iron. 

From neolithic times the record of cultural 
iadvancement is generally known. At the dawn 
of the historical period, the material culture con- 
tained nearly all of the fundamentals of our own 
material culture; but since the beginnings of his- 
tory the elaboration of such fundamentals as 
housing, agriculture, manufacturing, transpor- 
tation, clothing, foods, and the like has been most 
striking. There have also been since the begin- 
ning of history a number of very important fun- 
damental inventions. To-day the material cul- 
ture is quite magnificent, consisting of the use of 
a great diversity of such objects and substances 


as factories, machines, agricultural tools, build- 
ings, engineering accomplishments, means of 
transportation on land, on sea and in air, sanita- 
tion equipment, munitions for warfare, steam en- 
gines, gasoline engines, electrical plants and ap- 
pliances, explosives, furniture, heating apparatus, 
clothing, foods, shoes, household utensils, objects 
of adornment, jewelry, medicines, drugs, chemi- 
cals, reading matter, printing, etc., etc. 


The foregoing pages have served the purpose 
of calling the attention of the reader to some- 
thing of the origin and development of the super- 
organic, particularly on its material side. Look- 
ing at this growth of material culture from its 
beginnings there are several processes of its devel- 
opment that are seen at once but that require 
some consideration. The first point to be ob- 
served is that material culture accumulates. The 
use of bone is added to the use of stone. The use 
of bronze is added to the use of copper and the 
use of iron is added to the use of bronze. So that 
the stream of material culture grows bigger. The 


lives of material objects vary; some are much 
shorter than a human lifetime and others much 
longer. Indeed, there Is no special relation be- 
tween the life of material objects and the lifetime 
of human beings. Social Inheritance differs 
from biological inheritance. We come into these 
two Inheritances by quite different methods. It 
Is remembered that acquired characteristics are 
not inherited and that each human life begins 
where its predecessor began unless there be muta- 
tions. The biological inheritance of each succeed- 
ing Individual is more or less the same, with vari- 
ations, but the social inheritance may be quite 
different and much greater in another generation, 
due to Its cumulative nature. The cumulative 
nature of the process of material culture lies not 
in the life of the particular object but In the per- 
petuation of the knowledge of the method of 
making the object, which is passed on from gen- 
eration to generation. 

This cumulative aspect is due to two features 
of the cultural process, one is the persistence 
of cultural forms and the other Is the ad- 
dition of new forms. The persistence of cul- 
tural forms has been called cultural inertia and 
is so important a phenomenon as to warrant 
special consideration later. But in general a cul- 
tural object tends to persist because it has utility. 
The cultural object itself may wear out, be lost or 


destroyed, but the knowledge of how to create 
it continues and additional ones are made, be- 
cause they possess utility. New forms may be 
created by means of inventions. The rate of 
accumulation of culture depends in part on the 
frequency of inventions. The rate of inventions, 
their cultural determinants and the dependence 
of inventions on ability make a most important 
feature of the cultural process. But at this point, 
we wish to point out only the cumulative nature 
of the growth of material culture which may be 
said to be one very important process of the evolu- 
tion of material culture. 

It should be observed, however, that not all 
material culture is accumulative and not all forms 
persist. The record indeed shows that the use 
of some objects declines and knowledge of making 
them is lost. For instance, we no longer chip 
flints to make stone implements for the chase, ex- 
cept in isolated spots. Chipping stones does of 
course occur in the various uses made of stone to- 
day. The bone culture of the Aurignacian and 
the Magdalenian periods probably replaced some 
use of stone and the perfection of bronze and iron 
almost wholly replaced it. The use of the domes- 
ticated horse is being replaced though not wholly 
by the use of motor-driven vehicles. The hunting 
cultures are being lost. It has been said that the 
canoe was lost by some of the island peoples of 


Melanesia. The cultural forms may be lost for 
various reasons. A particular form may be lost 
because of the invention of a newer form which 
serves the purpose better. One invention may 
therefore not simply be added to the existing 
number but may replace a previous invention. 
Climatic changes or exhaustion of natural mater- 
ials may cause a loss. The culture of a partic- 
ular people may suffer a loss if they migrate to a 
new geographical location. Thus a people may 
give up their hunting culture and become herders 
of cattle. 

It would be very desirable if we could form 
some quantitative estimate of the actual extent to 
which material culture is lost and to which It 
accumulates. It is quite possible that there may 
be a tendency to overemphasize its cumulative 
nature and to fail to recognize the amount that is 
lost. The material cultures possessed by a people 
in a particular location will, over a long period 
of time, show a large proportion actually lost. 
This would not be true to so great an extent for 
the world as a whole, though. However, it is 
certainly more accurate to refer to this particular 
cultural process as selectively cumulative ; and by 
selective accumulation is meant the fact that new 
forms of material culture are added and some old 
ones discarded, there having been a selection. 
The additions have exceeded the discards, so that 


the stream of material culture of a particular 
people has widened with time. Material culture 
has very greatly accumulated if we add together 
all the cultures of the world. 

The phenomenon of selective accumulation Is 
certainly true of material culture, but it may not 
be true for other parts of culture, such as religion, 
science, art, law and custom. Customs may be 
on!\* slightly accumulative. The selection or re- 
placement aspect of the cultural process is very 
noticeable in the change of customs. In our 
modern civilization there is very little trace of the 
vast number of customs which are found among 
primitive peoples and which our ancestors may at 
one time have practised. Many customs are corre- 
lated with the material culture, since they are ways 
or habits of using the objects of material culture, 
so the accumulation of material culture means 
some accumulation of customs. Religion, in- 
deed, as seen in its organized forms and practices 
may even have diminished. There certainly 
seems to be less organized expression of religion 
in modern civilization than occurs among most 
peoples with primitive cultures. It is difficult to 
make such generalizations regarding religion for 
the reason that there is disagreement as to just 
what type of behavior should be called religious 
behavior. But among peoples with primitive 
cultures what may be called religious practices 


seem to be much more prevalent m connection 
with such activities as medicine, warfare, festi- 
vals, recreations, social organizations and morals 
than with us. In general the cumulative aspect 
of culture is probably more noticeable with ma- 
terial culture than with those other parts of cul- 

The selective nature of |:he accumulation of 
material culture does not always mean than old 
forms are wholly lost; but rather that they are 
discarded by a particular group or part of a group. 
They may continue to exist elsewhere. Peoples 
take up the use of steam in manufacturing but 
they do not necessarily abandon agriculture. 
Railroads did not mean the complete disuse of 
canals, nor do automobiles wholly replace horses. 
A particular social group may abandon completely 
an old form for a new, but other social groups 
may continue to use the old forms. This means 
that there are groups functioning in two different 
ways where there was only one method of func- 
tioning before. Such a process indicates that 
material culture becomes diversified. The com- 
plexity and heterogeneity of modern society is 
to be accounted for, in part, by the fact that ma- 
terial culture is selectively accumulative. 

The material culture of a particular people or 
nation thus becomes diversified, resulting in 
heterogeneity. If we think of the material cul* 


ture of the whole world, the diversification is very 
great indeed. Some peoples will have their cul- 
ture undergo considerable change, dropping old 
systems and taking on new ones, while other peo- 
ples continue to use the older systems. Such dif- 
ferences among cultures may occur because of 
various factors, such as climate, resources of na- 
ture, or geographical location. Relative degrees 
of isolation are a most important factor in such 
diversification. The discussion of these factors 
leads to a general consideration of why culture 
changes and why it does not change, which is 
taken up in Part III. 

Frequently the use of old forms of material 
culture is proportionately slight and of less social 
significance than the use of the newer forms, re- 
sulting nevertheless in complexity. There are 
many interesting consequences of this hetero- 
geneity, which have effects on various social re- 
lations, such as government, customs, justice and 
morality. One of these consequences is special- 
ization. A particular individual will not become 
acquainted with the whole of culture, but only the 
part which he, so to speak, specializes in. This 
is also true of a social group or people. 



The addition of cultural forms that accumulate 
is the result of invention and discovery. That 
culture grows by means of inventions is of course 
universally recognized. But it is not clear just 
how inventions occur. It is quite customary to 
think of inventions as the achievement of native 
ability, for inventors have a high degree of mental 
ability. Hence it follows that an improvement in 
the inherent mental ability of the race would result 
in an increased number of inventions. This is 
true. But the truth of the converse statement 
does not follow. An increase in inventions is not 
always the result of an improvement in the inher- 
ent mental ability of the race, for there are other 
factors in the production of inventions in addition 
to ability. An increase in the number of inven- 
tions may flow from an increased mental ability, 
but the increase in mental ability may be purely 
cultural and not biological. A people may be 
more able because of training and not because of 


change in the germ plasm. In Interpreting the 
phrase, mental ability, it Is seen that tho word 
does not refer exclusively to the biological ele- 
ment. An individual's mind at a particular mo- 
ment IS the result of both nature and nurture. 
Variations In ability may result from variations 
in nurture as well as from variations In nature. 

In another sense It can be shown that Inventions 
are the result of Inherent natural ability. In any 
sample of population, the distribution of inherent 
mental ability, in respect to any one mental trait, 
conforms more or less closely to the normal prob- 
ability curve; theie are only a few individuals with 
great ability, a few with very low ability and a 
great many with ordinary ability. Inventors are 
found In an upper portion of the curve. They 
thus have more inherent ability than those In a 
lower portion of the curve. So that In this sense 
superior native ability is responsible for inven- 
tions. Over a long period of time the Inventors 
will thus come from an upper portion of the dis- 
tribution of native ability. While this is true, 
yet over this period of time the average of native 
ability and the distribution of native ability may 
remain the same. So that the superior ability of 
Inventors is superior only with respect to the ex- 
isting Individuals of a particular distribution at 
the time, and not necessarily superior In the sense 
of increased native ability with respect to an 


earlier population. Of course over any long per- 
iod of time, there may have been an increase of 
ability, due to mutations. And cultural achieve- 
ments play an important part in selecting muta- 
tions for survival. There is no question but that 
mental ability plays its part in discovery, but it 
is desirable to see as clearly as possible just what 
part it plays. 

The dependence of inventions on mental ability 
Is more frequently spoken of than their depend- 
ence on the existing status of culture. A certain 
general dependence on the cultural antecedents is 
easily seen. Thus machines employing the wheel 
can not be constructed or invented until the exist- 
ing culture has achieved the wheel. Similarly cer- 
tain technical developments could hardly occur 
without the knowledge of smelting iron. The 
flaking of flints by pressure seems dependent on 
the knowledge of shaping stones by blows. The 
underlying cultural achievements necessary for the 
construction of a modern printing press, may con- 
ceivably run into the thousands or indeed mil- 
lions. Thus, if a cultural base at any one time 
or in any locality be described generally, it is 
seen to possess certainly a limiting value in re- 
gard to the inventions possible. Where an in- 
vention depends upon a series of inventions, it 
seldom occurs that a single Individual will make 
the necessary subsidiary inventions underlying the 


ultimate invention. The old saying that **neces- 
sity is the mother of inventions" is only a half 
truth. It is true that the urgency of a want spurs 
to greater effort. But necessity cannot create 
in addition to the invention the underlying cul- 
tural base. In earlier times, the necessity for 
quicker transportation, or a more stable food 
supply, or methods of preventing the deaths of 
babies was perhaps more urgent than now, but 
such wants did not produce the inventions. Prim- 
itive medicine in many diseases was powerless 
despite deliberate effort. It is nearer the truth to 
say that the existing culture is the mother of in- 

A relevant question, is, how far a given cul- 
tural base specifically determines a particular in- 
vention, assuming a constant level of mental abil- 
ity. Can it be said, for instance, that the devel- 
opment of the science of mathematics had reached 
such a stage in the latter part of the seventeenth 
century that the formulation of the branch of 
mathematics known as calculus was inevitable? 
The fact that Leibnitz and Newton both made 
this achievement is suggestive of an answer in 
the affirmative. Had the development of biology 
been of such a nature that at a certain stage the 
discovery of the principle of natural selection 
must necessarily have been made? Darwin and 
Wallace each made this discovery at about the 


same time. The difficulty in answering the ques- 
tion lies in describing with sufficient fullness the 
cultural requirements necessary for a particular 
invention. The inability to describe fully the 
conditions underlying an invention has led to the 
ascribing of an accidental or chance element to 
inventions, the unknown factors being called 
chance. Chance is seen when one inquires at 
what particular moment an invention is deter- 
mined. Why was the airplane invented just when 
it was? Why was it not Invented ten years 
earlier? The airplane was dependent on a 
light engine with great power, the steam engine 
of course not being satisfactory. But there were 
many other factors. It is difficult, however, to 
describe the cultural conditions fully enough to 
determine very closely the exact time at which 
the appearance of an invention is due. 

However, the appearance at approximately the 
same time of several inventions of the same 
thing is very impressive evidence of the power of 
culture in determining particular inventions. On 
this point Kroeber writes : 

The whole history of inventions is one endless chain 
of parallel instances. An examination of the patent-of- 
fice records in any other than a commercial or anecdotic 
spirit would alone reveal the inexorable order that 
prevails in the advance of civilization. The right to the 



monopoly of the telephone was long in litigation; the 
ultimate deasion rested on an interval of hours between 
the recording of concurrent descriptions by Alexander 
Bell and Elisha Gray. ... The discovery of oxygen is 
credrted to both Priestley and Scheele; its liquefaction 
to CaiUetet as well as to Pictet, whose results were 
attained in the same month of 1877 and announced in 
one session. Kant as well as Laplace can lay claim to 
the promulgation of the nebular hypothesis. Neptune 
was predicted by Adams and by Leverrier; the computa- 
tion of the one and the publication of that of the other 
had precedence by a few months. For the invention of 
the steamboat gloiy is claimed by their countrymen or 
partisans for Fulton, Jouifroy, Rumsey, Stevens, Sym- 
mington and others; of the telegraph, for Steinheil and 
Mo^e; m photography Talbot was the rival of Daguerre 
and Niepcft The doubly-flanged rail devised by Stevens 
was reinvented by Vignolet. Aluminum was first prac- 
tically reduced by the processes of Hall, Heroult, and 
t^owles. . . . Anaesthetics, both ether and nitrous o\ide, 
were discovered in 1845 and 1846 by no less than four 
men of one nationality. . . . Even the south pole, never 
before trodden by the foot of human beings, was at last 
reached twice in one summer. . . .« 

No doubt a striking list of inventions that have 
occurred only once could be made but such a rec- 
ord would be of little significance, for it would 
not imply that any invention might not have been 


invented the second time. For if an invention 
has been once made and has become widely known 
there is no occasion for a second invention. It 
is therefore impressive that there are these multi- 
ple instances of the same invention. '' That some 
inventions are inevitable seems probable. For in- 
stance, given the boat and given the steam engine, 
it certainly seems highly probable that the two 
could be connected in the steamboat. On the 
other hand the inevitability of an Invention does 
not seem so clear when one inquires, for instance. 
Into the cultural conditions that may have made 
the invention of the wheel Inevitable, — the wheel 
very probably having been Invented only once. 
It may have been that the pulling of a load by a 
domesticated animal over rolling logs led to the 
idea of the wagon wheel. But why does it ap- 
pear to have been Invented In only one place in the 
world? Was the underlying cultural situation 
which was necessary for the Invention of the 
wheel In existence in only one locality and at only 
one time? The answer to this question again, 

"^ A longer list of inventions made by two or more persons 
independently has been compiled by Miss Dorothy Thomas, 
who has been collecting material on this subject. The list 
appears as an appendix at the close of this section. No doubl 
a much longer list could be collected from existing records, 
and a still longer one if the records were complete. The pur- 
pose is not so much to find a complete total but to demonstrate 
a great prevalence of these multiple inventions independently 


no doubt, lies In a more complete account of the 
cultural conditions, which Is of course difficult to 
make. But certainly rolling logs and domesti- 
cated animals are not an adequate account. 
There may also be Implied certain types of cut- 
ting Implements, the uses of metals, types of 
ground, development of technical forms, a social 
condition creating an urgent need, etc. Why Is 
it, for instance, that In early times only one half 
of the world learned to drink the milk of domes- 
ticated animals? To give a cultural account of 
such a situation, a great deal must be known, of 
course, about the culture. And in our ignorance, 
we may speak of It as chance. 

Although an invention is dependent on the 
existing culture it does not follow that the same 
invention demands always the same cultural his- 
tory. Two different cultural situations may re- 
sult in the same invention or what appears to be 
the same invention. Thus writing may be made 
on clay tablets, papyrus or on stone. Boas cites 
as an illustration, the fact that though pottery 
may have developed from basketry in Arizona, 
it does not follow that this is the sole origin of 
pottery. And, again, the social organization of 
primitive tribes is often characterized by a de- 
finite number of subdivisions. But this type of 
organization has resulted from a union of smal- 
ler divisions as in the case of the Navaho or in 


a subdivision of a larger group as among the In- 
dians of the North Pacific coast of America. 
This phenomenon, sometimes called convergence, 
is of considerable theoretical significance, and has 
been frequently discussed. It seems to put an 
emphasis on the importance of a cultural need and 
to imply that there are various ways of meeting 
the need. A subdivided large group may repre- 
sent a social need and may arise by union or par- 

By definition, to invent is to contrive something 
new. But in trying to describe the particular 
new thing about an invented object, it is seen 
that the new is sometimes quantitatively incon- 
spicuous in comparison with the amount of old 
in such a newly invented object. In the telegraph, 
for instance, electricity, coils, batteries and cir- 
cuit are all known. The sound contrivance and 
the code seem the newer features, but these 
indeed have cultural predecessors in the electric 
bell, the alphabet and signaling. It is rather the 
putting together of certain appliances that is 
new. In the case of the telegraph as in the case 
of many inventions it is the putting of an idea 
in use for social purposes that gives it its signi- 

The social heritage of a particular people also 
grows through the adopting of a portion of cul- 
ture in use by some other people. The culture 


of a particular locality is to be accounted for, 
therefore, either by invention or by diffusion. It 
is much easier to borrow culture than it is to in- 
vent it. Diffusion is known to occur even where 
the contacts are rare and the distances are great. 
The explanation of a particular culture on the 
basis of inventions or on the basis of diffusion, 
and the comparative frequency of invention and 
diffusion have been a central theme among anth- 
ropologists for years. The same things have 
been invented in different parts of the world at 
different times. But diffusion is relatively the 
much more common occurrence. Montelius ® has 
discussed the early development of culture in 
Sv/cden and shown the overwhelming predomi- 
nance of diffusion. Isolated communities are very 
good illustrations of the relative influence of in- 
vention and diffusion. The slowness of relatively 
isolated cultures to change has been likened to 
stagnation. The growth of cultures in contact 
with other cultures is much more rapid. The 
great prevalence of diffusion as a source of the 
cultural growth of a particular people is further 
indication of the importance of the cultural fac- 
tor as compared to the role of the inventor's 
mental ability. 

«0. Montelius, "Der Handel in der Vorzeit," Praehistorischt 
ZeitschrifU Vol. II (1910). 



1. Solution of the problem of three bodies. By Clairaut 

(1747), Euler (1747), and D'Alembert (i747)- 

2. Theory of the figure of the earth. By Huygens 

(1690), and Newton (1680?). 

3. Variability of satellites. By Bradley (1752), and 

Wargentin (1746). 

®The accompanying list of duplicate independent inventions 
is taken from an article, "Are Inventions Inevitable? A Note 
on Social Evolution," appearing in the Political Science Quar- 
terly, Vol. XXXVII, No. I. The list is collected from histories 
of astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, physics, electricity, 
physiology, biology, psychology and practical mechanical inven- 
tions. The data are thus from the period of written records, 
indeed the last few centuries, and largely from histories of 
science. The various inventions and discoveries vary greatly 
in their importance. The list could be extended by further 

There are disputes concerning many of the origins in the 
instances listed. Disputes frequently concern priority, a mat- 
ter with which the accompanying discussion is not concerned. 
Where the dates are doubtful a question mark has been placed 
after the date. Occasionally it has not been possible to get 
the date. The most serious difficulty in making the list is 
the fact that the contribution of one person is in some cases 
more complete than that of another. For instance, Laplace's 


4. Motion of light within the earth's orbit. By Del- 

ambre (1821?), and Bradley (1728). 

5. Theory of planetary perturbations. By Lagrange 

(1808), and Laplace (1808). 

6. Discovery of the planet Neptune. By Adams (1845), 

and Leverrier (1845). 

7. Discovery of sun spots. By Galileo (1611), Fab- 

ricus (1611), Scheiner (1611), and Harriott 

8. Law of inverse squares. By Newton (1666), and 

Halley (1684). 

account of the nebular hypothesis is in more scientific detail 
than Kant's. Similarly, H alley's role may not have been as 
important as Newton's in formulating the law of inverse 
squares. It is sometimes doubtful just where to draw the lines 
defining a new contribution. Our guide has been the histories 
of science, and where there are differences in the historical 
accounts we have followed the general practice. The case 
of the discovery of the circulation of the blood has been 
excluded, as there seems to be a rather wide difference in 
the contributions of Cesalpino (1571) and Harvey (1616). 
Although the rule has been to exclude such cases of doubt, 
in some instances where they have been included a question 
mark has been placed next to the name. In several cases 
the independence of the research of one claimant has been 
questioned by another claimant or by his followers. In the 
case of calculus the verdict on the controversy regarding 
Newton and Leibnitz seems to be that both justly deserve 
the distinction. In the case of the microscope, telescope, 
thermometer, steamboat and electric railways, claims are still 
matters of dispute. In a few cases this fact has been indi- 
cated by the words "claimed by" following the subject of the 
discovery or invention. Most of the cases of widely different 
dates have special explanations as in the case of Mendel and 
the discovery of the elements of phosphorus. It has also 
been difficult to abbreviate the description of the discovery 
ioto a short title suitable for a list. 


9. Nebular hypothesis. By Laplace (1796), and Kant 


10. Effect of tidal friction on motion of the earth. By 
Ferrel (1853), and Delaunay (1853). 

11. Correlation between variations of sun spots and 

disturbances on the earth. By Sabine (1852), 
Wolfe (1852), and Gauthier (1852). 

12. Method of getting spectrum at edge of sun*s disk. 
By Jannsen (1868), and Lockyer (1868). 

13. Discovery of the inner ring of Saturn. By Bond 

(1850), and Dawes (1850). 

14. First measurement of the parallax of a star. By 
Bessel (1838), and Struve (1838), and Hender- 
son (1838). 

15. The effect of gravitation on movements of 
the ocean. By Lenz (1845?), and Carpenter 


16. Certain motions of the moon. By Clairaut (1752), 

Euler (1752), and D'Alembert (1752). 


17. Decimal fractions. By Stevinus (1585), and Biirgi 
(1592), Beyer? (1603), and Riidolff? (1530). 

18. Introduction of decimal point. By Biirgi (1592), 

Pitiscus (1608-12), Kepler (1616), and Napier 

19. The equation of the cycloid. By Torricelli (1644), 

and Roberval (1640). 

20. Logarithms. By Biirgi (1620), and Napier-Briggs 


21. The tangent of the qxloid. By Viviani (l66o?), 

Descartes (1660?), and Fermat (1660?). 

22. Calculus. By Newton (i 671), and Leibnitz (1676). 

23. The rectification of the semi-cubical parabola. By 

Van Heuraet (1659), Neil (1657), and Fermat 


24. Deduction of the theorem on the hexagon. By Pas- 
cal (1639), MacLaurin (1719-20), and Bessel 

25. The principle of least squares. By Gauss (1809), 

and Legendre (1806). 

26. The geometric law of duality. By Poncelet (1838), 

and Gergone (1838). 

27. The beginnings of synthetic projective geometry. 

By Chasles (1830), and Steiner (1830). 

28. Geometry with an axiom contradictory to Euclid's 
parallel axiom. By Lobatchevsky (1836-40?), Boy- 
lais (1826-33), and Gauss? (1829). 

29. Lobatchevsky *s doctrine of the parallel angle. By 

Lobatchevsky (1840), and Saccheri (1733). 

30. Method of algebraic elimination by use of determi- 
nants and by dialitic method. By Hesse ( 1842), and 

Sylvester (1840). 

31. A treatment of vectors without the use of coordinate 

systems. By Hamilton (1843), Grassman (1843), 
and others ( 1 843 ) . 

32. Principle of uniform convergence. By Stokes (1847- 

8), and Seidel (1847-8). 

33. Logarithmic criteria for convergence of series. By 

Abel, De Morgan, Bertrand, Raabe, Duhamel, Bon- 
net, Paucker (all between 1832-51). 


34- Radix method of making logarithms. By Briggs 
(1624), Flower (177O, Atwood (1786), Leonelli 
(1802), and Manning (1806). 

35. Circular slide rule. By Delamain (1630), and 

Oughtred (1632). 

36. Method of indivisibles. By Roberval (1640?), and 

Cavalieri (1635). 

37. Researches on elliptic functions. By Abel (1826- 
29), Jacobi (1829), and Legendre (181 1-28). 

38. The double theta functions. By Gopel (1847), and 

Rosenhain (1847). 

39. The law of quadratic reciprocity. By Gauss (1788- 
96), Euler (1737), and Legendre (1830). 

40. The application of the potential function to math- 

ematical theory of electricity and magnetism. By 
Green (1828), Thomson (1846), Chasles, Sturm, 
and Gauss. 

41. Dirichlet's principle in the theory of potentials. By 
Dirichlet (1848?), and Thomson (1848). 

42. Contraction hypothesis. By H. A. Lorentz (1895), 
and Fitzgerald (1895). 

43. Mathematical calculation of the size of molecules. 
By Loschmidt, and Thomson. 


44. Structure theory. By Butlerow (1888), Kekule 

(1888), and Couper (1888). 

45. Law of gases. By Boyle (1662), and Marriotte 



46. Discovery of oxygen. By Scheele (i774)) and 

Priestley (1774). 

47. Liquefaction of oxygen. By Cailletet (1877), and 

Pictet (1877). 

48. Method of liquefying gases. By Cailletet, Pictet, 
Wroblowski and Olzewski (all between 1877- 


49. Estimation of proportion of oxygen in atmosphere. 
By Scheele (1778), and Cavendish (1781). 

50. Beginnings of modern organic chemistry. By Boer- 
have (1732), and Hales (1732). 

51. Isolation of nitrogen. By Rutherford (1772), and 

Scheele (1773). 

52. That water is produced by combustion of hydrogen. 

By Lavoisier-Laplace (1783), and Cavendish 


53. Law of chemical proportions. By Proust (i 801-9), 
and Richter? 

54. The Periodic Law. First arrangement of atoms in 

ascending series. By De Chancourtois (1864), 
Newlands (1864), and Lothar Meyer (1864). 
Law of periodicity. By Lothar Meyer (1869), and 
Mendeleeff (1869). 

55. Hypothesis as to arrangement of atoms in space. By 
Van't Hoff (1874), and Le Bel (1874)- 

56. Molecular theory. By Ampere (1814), and Avaga- 

dro (1811). 

57. Hydrogen acid theory. By Davy and Du Long. 

58. Doctrine of chemical equivalents. By Wenzel 

(1777), and Richter (1792). 


59' Discovery of elements of phosphorus. By Brand 
(1669), Kunckel (1678), and Boyle (1680). 

60. Discovery of boron. By Davy (1808-9), and Gay- 
Lussac (1808). 

61. Discovery of ceria. By Hisinger (1803), Berzelius 

(1803-4), and Klaproth (1803-4). 

62. Process for reduction of aluminum. By Hall 

(i886), Heroult (1887), and Cowles (1885). 

63. Law of mass action of chemical forces. By Jellet 

(1873), Guldberg-Waage (1867), Van't Hoff 
(1877), and others. 

64. Comparison of refractivity of equimolecular quanti- 
ties by multiple function. By L. V. Lorenz (1880), 
and H. A. Lorentz (1880). 


65. Resistance of vacuum. By Torricelli-Pascal (1643- 

6), and von Guericke (1657). 

66. Air gun. By Boyle-Hooke (prior to 1659), and von 

Guericke (1650). 

67. Telescope. Claimed by Lippershey (1608), Delia 
Porta (1558), Digges (1571), Johannides, Metius 
(1608), Drebbel, Fontana, Janssen (1608), and 
Galileo (1609). 

68. Microscope. Claimed by Johannides, Drebbel and 

Galileo (1610?). 

69. Acromatic lens. By Hall (1729), and Dolland 


70. Principle of interference. By Young (1802), and 
Fresnel (1815). 


71. Spectrum analysis. By Draper (i860), Angstrom 

(1854), Kirchoff-Bunsen (1859), Miller (1843), 
and Stokes (1849). 

72. Photography. By Daguerre-Niepce (1839), and 
Talbot (1839). 

73. Color photography. By Cros (1869), and Du 
Hauron (1869). 

74. Discovery of overtones in strings. By Nobb-Pigott 

(1677), and Sauveur (1700-03). 

75. Thermometer. Claimed by Galileo (1592-7?)', 
Drebbel? (1608), Sanctorious (1612), Paul (1617), 
Fludd (1617), von Guericke, Porta (1606), De 
Caus (1615). 

76. Pendulum clock. Claimed by Biirgi (1575), Gal- 
ileo (1582), and Huygens (1656). 

77. Discovery of latent heat. By Black (1762), De 

Luc, and Wilke. 

78. Ice calorimeter. By Lavoisier-Laplace (1780), and 


79. Law of expansion of gases. By Charles (1783), and 

Gay-Lussac (1802). 

80. Continuity of gaseous and liquid states of matter. 
By Ramsay (1880), and Jamin (1883). 

81. Kinetic theory of gases. By Clausius (1850), and 

Rankine (1850). 

82. Law of conservation of energy. By Mayer (1843), 
Joule (1847), Helmholz (1847), Colding (1847), 
and Thomson (1847). 

83. Mechanical equivalent of heat. By Mayer (1842), 
Camot (1830), Seguin (1839), and Joule 


84. Principle of dissipation of energy. By Carnot? 
(1824), Clausius (1850), Thomson (1852). 

85. Law of impact, earlier conclusions. By Galileo 

(1638), and Marci (1639). 

86. Laws of mutual impact of bodies. By Huygens 

(1669), Wallis (1668), and Wren (1668). 

87. Apparent concentration of cold by concave mirror. 

By Porta (1780-91?), and Pictet (1780-91?). 

88. Circumstances by which effect of weight is deter- 
mined. By Leonardo and Ubaldi. 

89. Parallelogram of forces. By Newton (1687), and 
Varignon (1725?). 

90. Principle of hydrostatics. By Archimedes, and Stev- 
inus (1608). 

91. Pneumatic lever. By Hamilton (1835), and Bar- 
ker (1832). 

92. Osmotic pressure methods. By Van't Hoff (1886), 

and Guldberg (1870). 

93. Law of inertia. By Galileo, Huygens, and Newton 


94. Machinery for verifying the law of falling bodies. 

By Laborde, Lippich and von Babo. 

95. Centre of oscillation. By Bernouilli (1712), and 
Taylor (1715)- 

96. Leyden jar. By von Kleist (1745), and Cuneus 


97. Discover}^ of animal electricity. By Sultzer (1768), 
Cotuguo (1786), and Galvani (1791). 


98. Telegraph. Henry (1831), Morse (1837), Cooke- 

Wheatstone (1837), and Stelnheil (1837). 

99. Electric motors. Claimed by Dal Negro (1830), 
Henry (1831), Bourbonze and McGawley 


100. Electric railroad. Claimed by Davidson, Jacobi, 

Lilly-Colton (1847), Davenport (1835), Page 
(1850), and Hall (1850-1). 
lOi. Induction coil. By Page and Ruhmkorff. 

102. Secondary battery. By Ritter and Plante (1859). 

103. Electrolysis of water. By Nicholson-Carlisle 

(1800), and Ritter. 

104. Method of converting lines engraved on copper into 
relief. By Jacobi (1839), Spencer (1839), and 
Jordan (1839). 

105. Ring armature. By Pacinotti (1864), and Gramme 


106. Microphone. Hughes (1878), Edison (1877-8), 

Berliner (1877), and Blake (1878?). 

107. The phonograph. By Edison (1877), Scott?, and 

Cros (1877). 

108. Self-exciting dynamo. Claimed by Hjorth (1866- 
7), Varley (1866-7), Siemens (1866-7), Wheat- 
stone (1866-7), Ladd (1866), Wilde (1863-7)- 

109. Incandescent electric light. Claimed by Starr 
(1846), and Jobard-de Clangey (1838). 

no. Telephone. By Bell (1876), and Gray (1876). 

111. Arrest of electro-magnetic waves. By Branley 

( 1 890-1), Lodge (1893), and Hughes (1880). 

112. Electro-magnetic clocks. By Wheatstone (1845), 

and Bain (1845). 


113. Printing telegraphs. By Wheatstone (1845), and 

Bain (1845). 


114. Theory of infection of microorganisms. By Frac- 

astoro (1546), and Kircher. 

115. Discovery of the thoracic duct. By Rudbeck 

(1651), and Jolyff and Bertolinus (1653). 

116. That the skull is made of modified vertebrae. By 

Goethe (1790), and Oken (1776). 

117. Nature of the cataract. By Brisseau (1706), and 

Maitre-Jan (1707). 

118. Operation for cure of aneurisms. By Hunter 
(1775), and Anil (1772). 

119. Digestion as a chemical rather than a mechanical 

process. By Spallanzani and Hunter. 

120. Function of the pancreas. By Purkinje (1836), 

and Pappenheim (1836). 

121. Solution of the problem of respiration. By Priest- 
ley (1777), Scheele (i777)> Lavoisier (i777)> 
Spallanzani (1777), and Davy (i777)- 

122. Form of the liver cells. By Purkinje (1838), 

Heule (1838), and Dutrochet (1838). 

123. Relation of microorganisms to fermentation and 
putrefaction. By Latour (1837), and Schwann 


124. Pepsin as the active principle of gastric juice. By 
Latour (1835), and Schwann (1835). 

125. Prevention of putrefaction of wounds by keeping 


germs from surface of wound. By Lister {1867)^ 
and Guerin (1871). 

126. Cellular basis of both animal and vegetable tissue. 
Claimed by Schwann (1839), Henle (1839?), 
Turpin (1839?), Dumortier (1839?), Purkinje 

(1839?), Muller (1839?), and Valentin 


127. Invention of the laryngoscope. By Babington 

(1829), Liston (1837), and Garcia (1855)- 

128. Sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic By Long 

{1842), Robinson (1846), Liston (1846), Mor- 
ton (1846), and Jackson (1846). 

129. That all appendages of a plant are modified leaves. 

By Goethe (1790), and Wolfe (1767). 


130. Theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics. 

By E. Darwin (1794), and Lamarck (1801). 

131. Theory of natural selection and variation. By C. 

Darwin (1858), and Wallace (1858). 

132. Some results of heredity. By Mendel (1865), 
DeVries (1900), Correns (1900), Tschermarck, 


133. Theory of mutations. By Korschinsky (1899), 
and DeVries (1900). 

134. Theory of the emotions. By James (1884), and 
Lange (1887). 

135. Theory of color. By Young (1801), and Helm- 



136. Sewing machine. By Thimmonier (1830), Howe 

(1846), and Hunt (1840). 

137. Balloon. By Montgolfier (i783)» Rittenhouse- 

Hopkins (1783). 

138. Flying machine. Claimed by Wright (1895- 

1901), Langley (1893-7), and others. 

139. Reapers. By Hussey (1833), and McCormick 


140. Doubly-flanged rail. By Stephens and Vignolet. 

141. Steamboat. Claimed by Fulton (1807), JouiEFroy, 
Rumsey, Stevens, and Symmington (1802). 

142. Printing. By Gutenberg (1443), and Coster 


143. Cylinder printing press. By Koenig-Bensley (1812- 

13), and Napier (1830). 

144. Typewriter. Claimed by Beach (1847-56), 
Sholes? (1875), and Wheatstone (1855-60). 

145. Trolley car. By Van Doeple (1884-5), Sprague 

(1888), Siemans (1881), and Daft (1883). 

146. Stereoscope. By Wheatstone (1839), and Elliott 


147. Centrifugal pumps. By Appold (1850), Gwynne 

(1850), and Bessemer (1850). 

148. Use of gasoline engines in automobiles. By Otto 
(1876), Daimler (1885), and Selden (1879?). 




The social heritage in its material aspects thus 
grows through inventions, and in particular areas 
by diffusion, and is selectively accumulative. It 
is desirable to consider somewhat the rapidity of 
change and the rate of growth of material cul- 
ture. A brief perspective of the growth of cul- 
ture from its beginnings shows that the change 
was quite slow in very early times. Based on the 
finds in stonework, the development of the mat- 
erial culture of the Chellean period to the Acheu- 
lean and the Acheulean to the Mousterian required 
an interval of about 25,000 years each, accord- 
ing to Osborn's chronology. From the begin- 
nings of Aurignacian culture to the beginnings 
of the Magdalenian was a period of some 10,000 
years, though it is not clear that this development 
took place in Europe by means of inventions. 
The neolithic culture appeared in Europe 5,000 
years later. From neolithic times to the historic 
period and from the historic period on, the 

changes in material culture have been much more 
rapid. At the present time both the change and 
the accumulation of material culture are quite 
rapid and may be measured in such brief intervals 
as generations or even decades. 

As to the causes of the changes In rate of 
this accumulation, it is thought a most important 
factor is the extent at any one time of the exist- 
ing material culture. This point Is important 
and the relation between the existing technical 
equipment and the number of Inventions made 
should be examined. It would seem that the 
larger the equipment of material culture the 
greater the number of Inventions. The more 
there Is to Invent with, the greater will be the 
number of Inventions. When the existing ma- 
terial culture is small, embracing a stone tech- 
nique and a knowledge of skins and some wood- 
work, the number of Inventions is more limited 
than when the culture consists of a knowledge 
of a variety of metals and chemicals and the use 
of steam, electricity, and various mechanical prin- 
ciples such as the screw, the wheel, the lever, the 
piston, belts, pulleys, etc. The street car could 
not have been Invented from the material cul- 
ture existing at the last glacial period. The dis- 
covery of the power of steam and the mechanical 
technology existing at that time made possible 

a large number of inventions. It is certainly 
true that when the material culture was small 
inventions were few, and now when the material 
culture is large the inventions are many, though, 
of course, there are other factors than the num- 
ber of elements of material culture. 

In the preceding pages it has been pointed out 
that the material culture grows by accumulation, 
and the additional point is now made that the size 
of the material culture, that is, the number of 
different kinds of material-culture objects is a 
factor in determining the number of inventions 
of new material-culture objects. In general, 
growth occurs when more new units are added 
than there are disappearances of old units. And 
very frequently there are definite relationships 
between the number of existing units and the 
number of new ones produced. These relation- 
ships may be expressed in various mathematical 
formulae, which describe various types of curves. 
The fact that material culture is accumulative, 
that is, new inventions are not lost but added to 
the existing stock, and the fact (if it be a fact) 
that the larger the stock the greater the number 
of new inventions, suggest at first glance the 
compound interest law. It is recalled that with 
compound interest the interest is not spent but 
is added to the principal and the succeeding sizes 


of the growing principal mean a larger amount 
of Interest, the rate of interest remaining the 

If any newly Invented material object be taken as 
unit, then a curve representing its growth for the 
very long period of time that culture has existed 
would presumably have an upward trend although 
its slope might be small. The historical record of 
culture would seem to indicate that in the very 
early times, the slope was probably slight but in 
modern times probably sharper, at least there are 
many more inventions now than formerly. The 
growth of material culture may not be found to 
lend itself to statistical and graphical represen- 
tation, but by speculating as to its possible re- 
semblance to the compound interest curve, we 
may come to some better insight into the nature 
of the growth of material culture. We shall dis- 
cuss the compound interest curve in relation to 
the growth of culture, but using it as a standard 
only for purposes of comparison not description. 
One difference between the compound Interest 
curve and the possible curve of growth of cul- 
ture has already been noted, namely, that the 
growth of material culture is not as consistently 
accumulative as is compound Interest. For cer- 
tainly there Is some loss of the knowledge of 
making cultural objects for the world as a whole 

and much more loss for a particular locality or 

Another difference is that the units of money 
in compound interest are the same, whereas the 
various invented material objects have the ut- 
most variety. Regarding the point that the 
number of cultural objects is a determining fac- 
tor in the number of new inventions somewhat 
as the size of the principal is a determining 
factor in the amount of interest, it is seen that 
some inventions are relatively insignificant while 
some are profoundly significant in promoting new 
inventions. Thus the discovery of the new source 
of power, steam, really meant that a whole host of 
inventions involving applications of this power 
followed, necessitating many rapid changes in 
material culture. Whereas, the invention of the 
turbine engine did not mean nearly so many 
changes as did the invention of the ordinary steam 
engine. Inventions thus differ on the basis of 
their effect on possible future inventions. This 
difference in the nature of inventions means that 
the curve of growth of material culture is very 
irregular in its upward trend and not as smooth 
as the exponential curve. 

The facts of the growth of material culture 
seem to indicate a development by jumps. 
There will be a period of stability or of rela- 

tively slight change. Then occurs a fundamen- 
tal Invention of great significance which precipi- 
tates many changes, modifications and other in- 
ventions which follow with relative rapidity for 
a time. These rapid changes are then followed 
by another period of relative stability — unless 
another fundamental discovery be made. The 
adoption of the domesticated horse from the 
Spaniards by the Plains Indians is such an illus- 
tration, as seen from the record of changes re- 
corded by Wissler. ^° Certainly the discovery of 
the power and uses of steam precipitated many 
rapid changes. Accounts of the changes that 
have followed the use of steam have for many 
years been published in almost all branches of 
social science, so great Is the number of these 
changes. The latter part of the generalization 
that the period of active change is followed by 
a period of relative stability Is not verified by the 
industrial revolution, perhaps because the period 
of time since the beginning of the use of steam as 
power Is short. Indeed, before such a period of 
stability arrives, some other significant invention 
may be made. 

This jump-like nature of social change has re- 
cently been the subject of comment by Professor 

10 Clark Wissler, "The Influence of the Horse in the Devel- 
opment of Plains Culture," American Anthropologist, New 
Scries, Vol. XVI, No. i, pp. 1-25. 


R. A. Lehfeldt in a mathematical paper on "The 
Normal Law of Progress." He has there con- 
sidered three sets of data, British trade statistics, 
the German birth rate, and the growth of British 
population. His data when plotted show this 
period of stability, then a rapid change followed 
by another period of stability.^^ Lehfeldt's 
problem is not exactly the same as that now be- 
ing discussed. His data do not represent the 
accumulation in inventions. They rather rep- 
resent the statistical measurements of a limited 
effect of an invention or a few inventions. 
Thus, the lowering of the German birth 
rate may be due largely to the spread of the 
knowledge of the newly discovered methods of 
birth control and the statistical formula thus 
measures the rate of diffusion, the quantitative 
spread of a single social change. Similarly the 
curve of the growth of foreign trade measures 
the rate of diffusion for a particular country 
of the effect of a series of inventions on manu- 
facturing and trade. The extent of change, 
therefore, may mean the spread of culture and 

^^ Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, New Series, Vol. 
LXXIX, (1916.) An equation to the curve describing these 
data he has worked out to be the following: 

log q = log qo + kF, (i) . Where F (x) = -^ J^ - x*^ 

q» is q at a certain moment (the period), t is the time in ycarj 
before or after the epoch and T is a constant period. 


amount of change measured In terms of some unit, 
rather than the accumulation of inventions. 

It seems very probable, however, that the rate 
of cultural growth as measured in terms of in- 
crease in inventions is uneven, slow then rapid, 
then slow, and so on, because of the difference in 
the fundamental natures of inventions. Such a 
course would seem to be particularly true with 
respect to a restricted portion of culture, as, for 
instance, mechanical development of steel appli- 
ances. Combining the rates of growth for all 
portions of material culture, however, might 
smooth out the curve somewhat. 

Another difference, therefore, between the com- 
pound interest law and the growth of culture lies 
in the fact that in cultural change the rate of 
growth is not constant as in the formula for 
compound interest. The fact that inventions 
vary greatly in their influence on further cul- 
tural changes makes this point clear. There are, 
of course, many variable factors affecting the 
number of inventions made other than the extent 
of the existing material culture, as, for instance, 
the hostility shown by a people towards innova- 
tions. Increased populations may mean more 
applied mental ability. Increased cultural con- 
tacts resulting in diffusion of elements may re- 
sult in greater modifications. The larger cul- 

tural base may not only mean that there is 
more material culture to Invent with; but It may 
also mean that It is easier for a given mental 
ability to invent than would be true where the 
material culture is small. This would affect the 
time-rate at which Inventions would be made. 
In other words, the time of appearance of an in- 
vention when the material culture is large 
would be shorter than when it Is small. 

The number of existing cultural elements is 
also limited as a determining factor in the pro- 
duction of new inventions by the non-material 
culture, as for instance, the social attitude to- 
wards the new. Thus religion may discourage 
sculpture. Religious leaders may try to prevent 
discoveries in science. The social attitude will 
vary in different periods in its hostility towards 
innovations; or it may specifically encourage dis- 
covery. Western civilization to-day is less hos- 
tile to change than In the Middle Ages or than 
primitive cultures. We, perhaps, exaggerate this 
lack of hostility, and only in some respects can we 
be said to welcome change. It should also be 
noted that the increasing cultural base has also 
probably had an effect on determining the social 
attitude towards invention as truly as has the so- 
cial attitude had an effect on determining the size 
of the cultural base. 


A detailed verification of the foregoing analy- 
sis by data on inventions is desirable. For in- 
stance, a statistical record of inventions year by 
year would furnish material for measuring the 
rate of growth. But no complete record of in- 
ventions by years can be made. A partial list of 
such inventions by years would show the record 
for later years unduly large in comparison with 
earlier years, for the reason that records are fuller 
for later years. 

We have the statistical records of patents 
granted by the United States patent office since 
1838, and this record is valuable, though fragmen- 
tary, evidence. A patent is granted 

to any person who has invented or discovered any 
new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composi- 
tion of matter or any new and useful improvement 
thereof, or any new, original and ornamental design for 
an article of manufacture not known or used by others 
in this country before his invention or discovery thereof, 
and not patented or described in any printed publication 
in this or any foreign country before his invention or 
discovery thereof or more than two years prior to his 
application, and not in public use or on sale in the United 
States for more than two years prior to his application, 
unless the same is proved to have been abandoned.^^ 

The number of patents by five-year periods 

-^^ Rules of Practice in the United States Patent Office, 
Revised July 17 ^ 1907, Rule 24, p. lo. 


since 1840 granted by the United States patent 
office is shown in the following table. ^' 


4731870 . 

.. 13,321 1900 

... 26,499 


5031875 . 

.. 14,817 1905 

... 30,399 


993 1880 . 

.. 13,947 1910 

... 35,930 


.. 2,013 1885 . 

. . 24,233 1915 

... 44,934 


.. 4,8191890 . 

. . 26,292 1920 

... 39,882 


.. 6,616 1895 . 

.. 22,057 

The foregoing series shows that the number of 
patents is increasing rapidly but the rate of in- 
crease is declining. The growth in the number 
of patents granted in the United States over the 
eighty-year period from 1840 to 1920 is repre- 
sented by a straight line with sharp upward slope 
more accurately than by a line curving upward. 
In fact it is difficult to conceive of any growth 
under actual conditions increasing for long accord- 
ing to the compound interest law. Such an In- 
crease in money for a long time Is not found. 
Malthus said that population tended to Increase in 
a geometric progression; but it is only a tendency 
for there are actual checks. Lehfeldt's curves of 
progress, previously referred to, curve upward for 
a while but later the rate diminishes markedly. 

The growth of culture has been characterized 
by Lowie as follows : 

"^^ Report j>f the Commissioner of Patents to Congress for 
Year Endgd ig20, p. 7. 


We may liken the progress of mankind to that of a 
man a hundred years old, who dawdles through kinder- 
garten for eighty-five years of his life, takes ten years to 
go through the primary grades, then rushes with light- 
ning rapidity through grammar school, and college. 
Culture, it seems, is a matter of exceedingly slow growth 
until a certain 'threshold' is passed when it darts for- 
ward, gathering momentum at an unexpected rate.^* 

Such a vivid picture of social change makes one 
wonder about the future. Will the rate of inven- 
tions continue to increase? How rapidly will the 
accumulation of material culture continue ? Many 
interesting thoughts are stimulated by these ques- 
tions. How will life be with such rapidity of 
change, as indicated by the projection into the fu- 
ture of these processes? At the present time, 
parents are outdistanced In a short time by their 
children. We no sooner begin to get adjusted to 
a change, before a new one sets in. A particular 
cultural change not only necessitates an adjust- 
ment to it on the part of individuals but it de- 
mands sometimes rather far-reaching adjustments 
in other parts of culture, where cultural interre- 
lations are widely ramified, as Is often the case. 
Furthermore it takes a rather long period of one's 
life to assimilate through education the existing 
culture. If our social heritage accumulates still 

1* Robert H. Lowic, Culture and Ethnology^ p. 78. 


more and more, the length of time required to 
assimilate this increased social heritage and the 
difficulty in assimilating it will be even greater. 
Will it take forty or fifty years of a person's life 
to prepare one for life? Or will it mean in- 
creasing specialization and differentiation in hu- 
man activity so that one becomes quite narrowly 
a specialist? And of this great social heritage, 
will one never assimilate any but that narrow por- 
tion in which one specializes? Will the speciali- 
zation become narrower and narrower and take 
longer and longer to acquire? It is difficult, of 
course, to predict the future course of material 
culture even in very general terms. The preced- 
ing discussion has approximated, it is thought, a 
description of the growth of material culture, 
but for the past. Even though a mathematical 
formula were constructed to fit the facts of cul- 
tural growth, such a formula would only be des- 
criptive within the limits of past experience. 
Extrapolation might prove inaccurate. But from 
a long-time view of the cultural record, if the 
past be a guide to the future, there should be ex- 
pected a greatly increasing cultural growth and 
much more rapid social changes. 

However, there are conceivable several condi- 
tions which might result in a slowing up of cul- 
tural growth. It is thinkable that the number of 
possible inventions might be limited, for instance, 


by the satisfaction of human needs and wants. 
The material culture existing to-day meets very 
satisfactorily a great many of our material wants. 
Our housing, clothing, foods, transportation, and 
much other equipment seem fairly satisfactory. 
May it not be argued that our wants are already 
well met by the abundance of the existing mater- 
ial culture? Such considerations seem very 
doubtful, however. A writer two thousand years 
ago might have commented that the material 
wants of human beings were fairly satisfactorily 
met then, as there were houses, clothing, methods 
of transportation, etc. Yet improvements pro- 
ceeded at an unprecedented rate. Another point 
that raises doubt, is the fact that though wants 
may be described in psychological terms as few, 
their expression in cultural terms may be endlessly 
varied. And finally it is highly doubtful whether 
definite wants are important determining or limit- 
ing factors of specific cultural forms. The ur- 
gency or lack of urgency of a want is conditioned 
in its production of inventions by the existing cul- 
ture. It is possible that cultural growth might 
be limited by the capacity of human society to as- 
similate so large an accumulation of culture. 
The capacity of society to assimilate culture is, 
however, greatly increased through specialization 
resulting in differentiation. If cultural forms are 
increasingly discarded, there would result change 

without so much accumulation. But such specula- 
tions are highly imaginary. 

It is probable that the social development of 
the future will be affected by changes in the quan- 
tity and nature of natural resources such as soil, 
minerals, forests, etc. The natural environment 
has always had an effect on the development of 
material culture, and very broad variations in 
geographical factors have been a conditioning 
element in the production of new cultural forms. 
So changes, shortages, or discoveries in natural 
resources will have an effect on the material cul- 
ture of the future. 

In the preceding pages, enough has been pre- 
sented to show roughly something of a picture of 
the growth of material culture from its beginnings 
to the present time, and it has been seen that cer- 
tain factors inherent in culture itself may be the 
cause of this particular cultural growth. The 
writers on social evolution, it is recalled, have not 
kept distinct the process of cultural change from 
the process of biological change. Often the as- 
sumption has seemed to be that the cultural evolu- 
tion was caused by biological evolution. The 
foregoing considerations of cultural change have 
been made without reference to biological evolu- 
tion. We shall now discuss briefly some facts 
and principles concerning the evolution of bio- 
logical man, particularly for the purpose of try- 


ing to get a brief picture of the biological evolu- 
tion that has occurred in man since the beginnings 
of culture and also some idea of the rapidity of 
biological evolution as compared with the rapidity 
of cultural evolution. Such a consideration of 
biological evolution will make easier an appraisal 
of the biological factor in social evolution. 



The remains of the animal who formed eoliths, 
if indeed these stones were artificially flaked, have 
not been found. The remains of Pithecanthro- 
pus erectus are of the same general period as the 
eoliths, but no eoliths were found with these 
skeletal fragments. There is some doubt as to 
the period in which Pithecanthropus lived, but he 
is either of the late Pliocene or early Pleistocene 
period, a half-million years or more ago. The 
most significant measurement of this find is his 
skull capacity, which is estimated at 850-900 c.c. 
The largest simian brain case is 600 c.c. while the 
skulls of men living to-day average 1450-1500 
c.c. These comparative measurements indicate 
that Pithecanthropus was a ^'missing link," in the 
matter of skull capacity intermediate between ape 


and man. This find was made In Java and it is 
not known that man descended from this creature, 
or rather that the lineal ancestor of man at this 
period had the measurements of Pithecanthropus. 
Not until the Mousterian period, 50,000 yea'rs, 
more or less, ago, are skeletal remains of man or 
man-like creatures found with a sufficient degree 
of completeness to give estimates of his whole 
bodily structure, particularly the capacity of the 
skull. The Mauer jaw of Heidelberg man, 
closely resembling neither the jaw of apes nor of 
men, was found dating at a period between Pithe- 
canthropus and the Mousterlans; but It cannot be 
told from the jaw what capacity his skull was or 
what were his other bodily measurements. Re- 
garding the Plltdown man, there is such disagree- 
ment that we may pass over those fragments 
without consideration. But placed at the begin- 
ning and middle of the last glacial epoch, with 
the Mousterian culture twenty or more finds have 
been made, some fragmentary and some more or 
less complete but all resembling each other. 
These finds establish man without doubt, but this 
man differed from modern man, probably more 
than the yellow races differ from the blacks. The 
capacity of his skull was large, larger than the 
average of modern man judged by the small num- 
ber of skulls that could be measured. This is 
shown from the following measurements on six 


skulls, cited from Osborn: Spy II, 1723 c.c. (prob- 
ably) ; La Chapelle, 1626 c.c; Spy I, 1562 c.c; 
Neanderthal, 1408 c.c; La Quina (female), 1367 
c.c, and Gibraltar, 1296 cc The skulls of mod- 
ern man vary between the limits of 950 c.c. and 
2020 c.c The size of the brain is considered to be 
correlated with mental ability. Such a correla- 
tion is true over a very broad range of life, as 
seen from the fact that the anthropoids have 
small brains and men have large brains. But 
there are other factors than the size of the brain 
determining mental ability. The structure of the 
brain is as truly important as the size and weight, 
within limits of normal variation. This Nean- 
derthal type had skulls somewhat more flattened 
than modern man, with protruding brow ridges 
and prominent face but small chin. Just what 
significance these measurements, as, for instance, 
rounded chins, have for mental ability is not 
known. The literature on this race is vast and 
the descriptions and analyses of the various meas- 
urements are very erudite and technical. How- 
ever, it is permissible to observe that at the time 
many of these discussions were made there was a 
decided expectancy for "missing links" and a 
search for simian characteristics. The Darwin- 
ian theories created such a situation. And if 
there was any bias in these accounts, it would 
probably be in the tendency to find simian resem- 

blances. But no one questions that the Neander- 
thals were of the genus homo. Certainly man 
was living in Europe 50,000 years ago during the 
earlier part of the last ice age. But how direct 
our descent is from this race is not known. In 
other words, it is not possible to tell positively 
from the evidence of this race whether our own 
ancestors were more developed or less or differ- 
ent. Neanderthal man in his ancient form has 
not survived to-day. 

By the time of the Aurignacian culture, there 
were probably several types of men living in Eu- 
rope, all rather closely resembling modern man 
and hence differing a good deal from Neander- 
thal man. The type of which there are the most 
finds and the best descriptions is called the Cro- 
Magnon. The Cro-Magnons resembled modern 
man, especially the American Indian, quite 
closely, particularly in the facial formations. 
They were taller than modern man and their 
heads were larger. The skull capacity of the 
"old man of Cro-Magnon" was 1590 c. c. and of 
the woman 1550 c.c. The Cro-Magnons 
found at Grimaldi had skulls which are said 
to average 1800 c.c. The skeletons found 
for periods later than the Aurignacian were some- 
what smaller than the Cro-Magnons and with 
smaller brain cases. The anatomical finds of man 
during the late stone age and the neolithic age, 


though varied, resemble quite closely the measure- 
ments of modern men. Modern Europeans seem 
to be somewhat taller and larger than Europeans 
of several hundred years ago, but this may be due 
to purely environmental influences such as a better 
food supply. Man is to be compared with the 
domesticated animals rather than with the wild 
animals. Domestication means a more continu- 
ous food supply which has an effect on bodily 

From skeletal measurements, therefore, there 
is strong indication of evolution in man since the 
beginning of the Pleistocene period. And this 
evolution had developed man certainly by the last 
ice age, from 50,000 to 25,000 years ago. But 
the evidence of biological evolution, as seen in 
anatomical measurements, since the last ice age, 
is certainly very slight, if existing at all. It is 
realized, of course, that measurements of bones 
are only one of many possible indices of variation. 
The meagreness of these data as indications of 
evolution of mental ability is also appreciated. 
Other criteria, if existing for this long period, 
might show other and different evidences of evolu- 
tion. Considering the scantiness of skeletal evi- 
dence and the absence of other data, it seems de- 
sirable to inquire briefly into what is known in 
general regarding the possible rate of biological 

change, and to malce certain comparisons with the 
rate of cultural change. 

The question, What is the rate of biological 
change? is so simplified that it may never be pos- 
sible to answer in as simple a manner. The rate 
of biological change may be very rapid at one time 
and very slow at another. Or it may be rapid in 
one species and slow in another. Or again only 
one part of the bodily mechanism may be under- 
going change and the other parts remain stable, 
except in so far as internal readjustments may be 
occasioned. And then of course it will be difficult 
to express rates of biological change in measur- 
able and comparable units. All these difficulties, 
particularly in the light of the present data, mean 
that the most that can be expected from an inquiry 
into the rate of biological change will necessarily 
be quite general. But it should be remembered 
that the purpose for which this knowledge is 
wanted in the present discussion is to make com- 
parisons of the rapidity of change in man with the 
rapidity of cultural changes. It is known from 
common observation that biological changes are 
slow as seen against the span of human life. 
This will be admitted when it is recalled that until 
Darwin's discoveries, a little over a half-century 
ago, it was not admitted generally that the species 
changed at all. They were supposed to have 

been created as they are now. It was assumed 
that they continued to exist as created without 
change. The stability of plants and animals was 
indeed hardly questioned and the idea of biologi- 
cal evolution came as a shock. 

Since the records of biological change in point 
of time are few, it may be well to approach the 
subject by a brief consideration of the way in 
which changes occur. The evidence of changes 
occurs in connection with the study of heredity. 
This study of heredity has already developed 
quite an elaborate technique and terminology, and 
the research is too extensive to give a detailed 
summary. But briefly, it may be said, the pro- 
cess of change occurs through variations and a 
transmission of these variations through heredity 
and a selection of particular ones favorable to 
survival. It will be readily seen that if the bodily 
variations in an organism, occurring because of 
use or disuse, or of acquired characteristics, were 
transmitted to the offspring, then the rapidity of 
biological changes would be great, and sociology 
would be of the utmost importance for biology. 
But acquired characteristics are not inherited; and 
this possible source of change is eliminated from 
consideration. Individuals vary, of course, but 
there are limits to the variation. Within these 
limits, variations are transmitted subject to cer- 
tain rules of inheritance. But if these limits re- 


main the same there is no change of species. 
Changes are sought, therefore, in variations that 
occur without these usual limits of variation and 
that are inherited. These are called mutations. 

At the present time it is not known how or why 
these mutations occur, though much is known con- 
cerning the mechanism of their transmission 
through heredity. A number of mutants have 
been observed, however. The most extensive 
evidence concerning their frequency comes from 
the laboratory of Professor T. H. Morgan, who 
has conducted for many years experiments on a 
fruit fly, Drosophila, Morgan's work has been 
chiefly concerned with the mechanisms of heredity 
and not primarily with the rate of mutation. He 
has not published an estimate of the number of 
mutations observed nor of the number of flies ex- 
amined for mutations. To get a rate of muta- 
tions we should need to know at least the number 
of flies examined, the number of traits of the fly 
observed, and the number of mutations found. 

Although the total number of flies examined in 
his laboratory during the years of his investiga- 
tions has not been published, Morgan gave me 
some rough idea of the number. He said lo,- 
000,000 as an estimate would be conservative. 
He did not think there had been as many as 30,- 
000,000. No actual count has of course been 
made. Such estimates are, however, for flics 


that have actually been observed under the micro- 
scope. The flies are examined more or less 
closely for a greater or smaller number of traits, 
depending on the particular problem in hand. 
But usually the investigators look over the eyes, 
the wings, the body, and the legs, so that quite a 
number of traits are observed on each fly. 

With regard to the number of mutations, Mor- 
gan has written as follows ; 

The most extensive evidence is from Drosophila 
melanogaster. One of the first mutants that appeared, 
viz., white eyes, has appeared anew in our cultures about 
three times, in cultures known to be free from it before 
and not contaminated. The eye-color vermilion has 
appeared at least six times; the wing character called 
rudimentary, five times; cut wing has been found four 
times; truncate wing has frequently appeared, but has 
not necessarily been always produced by the same 
change. Certain characters such as notch wings . . . 
have appeared quite often. . . .^^ 

These cases are mentioned as recurrent instances, 
and there are of course a number of other muta- 
tions that have occurred only once. In another 
paragraph, Morgan speaks of the twelve domi- 
nant mutations that have occurred in Drosophila, 
These of course may have occurred more than 

i« Thomas Hunt Morgan, The Physical Basis of Heredity, 
pp. 248, 249. 


once. Morgan cautiously concludes that muta- 
tions occur infrequently. Even if a few hundred 
mutations have been observed in his laboratory, 
we could not arrive at so exact a measure as a 
rate of mutations. 

It is difficult to make an estimate of the number 
of mutations that would have a definite meaning 
and could be interpreted clearly. In the first 
place, some of the examinations of the whole fly 
were done fairly rapidly, the search being made 
for a particular mutation. It is therefore very 
probable that mutations have escaped notice. 
Some of the mutations are small, and it is not al- 
ways easy to tell when a change is a mutation. 
Even though the rate of mutations in Drosophila 
were known, it does not follow that other species 
would have the same rate. 

A less vague estimate of the number and fre- 
quency of mutations is found in an article pub- 
lished by F. N. Duncan.^^ A large number of 
crosses were made with mutant stock of Droso* 
phila and wild stock. A uniformly careful exam- 
ination of 16,637 fli^s of the F2 generation was 
made, and three mutations were found, two of 
these three being of the same character. Of 
course, three is a very small number to make a 
reliable ratio, as we know from the theory of 

1^ "An Attempt to Produce Mutations through Hybridiza- 
tion," American Naturalist, Vol. XLIX, pp. 575-582. 


probabilities. The foregoing material is much 
too vague and fragmentary to form an accurate 
numerical rate ; but it does give us some informa- 
tion regarding the frequency of mutations, which 
we see is not great. 

A few other remarks on mutations may be 
made. The new character differs from the old, 
sometimes very slightly and sometimes by a larger 
amount. It seems that the smaller differences 
predominate because the larger mutations entail 
considerable organizational adjustments, which 
would give the smaller mutations greater chance 
of surviving. Extremely large differences be- 
tween the new and old characters would thus be 
rare. These smaller mutations mean that the 
development is likely to be in the direction of the 
selection. Professor Morgan states the idea 

Starting at any stage, the degree of development of 
any character increases the probability of further stages 
in the same direction. The relation can better be illus- 
trated by specific cases. The familiar example of tossing 
pennies will serve. If I have thrown heads five times 
in succession, the chances that at the next toss of the 
penny I may make a run to six heads is greater than if 
I tossed six pennies at once. Not of course because five 
separate tosses of heads will increase the likelihood that 
at the next toss a head rather than a tail will turn up, 
but only that the chances are equal for a head or a tail. 


So that I have equal chances of increasing the run to 
six by that throw, while if I tossed six pennies at once 
the chances of getting six heads in one throw are only 
once in sixty-four. Similar illustrations in the case of 
animals and plants bring out the same point. If a race 
of men average 5 feet 10 inches, and on the average 
mutations are not more than two inches above or below 
the racial average, the chance of the appearance of a 
mutant individual that is 6 feet tall is greater than in a 
race of 5-foot men. If increase in height is an advan- 
tage the taller race has a better chance than the smaller 
one. This statement does not exclude the possibility 
that a short race might happen to beat out in height a 
taller race, for it might more often mutate; but chance 
favors the tall. In this sense evolution is more likely 
to take place along lines already followed, if further 
advantage is to be found in that direction.^^ 

The example is purely hypothetical as regards 
the size of mutations and the conditions of sur- 
vival. The illustration shows that in biological 
evolution the existing stage of biological develop- 
ment does have a determining effect on the fu- 
ture development, with a large element of chance. 
Thus there is a certain similarity with cultural 
growth, where it was observed that the existing 
stage of culture had a determining effect on the 
number and the nature of the inventions. 

With regard to the survival of flies with mu- 

17 op. cit., p. 268. 


tant characters, the opinion among the workers in 
Morgan's laboratory was that in general the flies 
in which mutations were found could not have 
survived in the wild state. This fact may be of 
possible significance in strengthening the guess 
that culture may provide an environment in which 
probable mutations might survive. 

But the especial point here under consideration 
is the rapidity of biological change. The data 
on Drosophila are the most extensive. Other 
cases of change are seen in selective breeding ex- 
periments undertaken for practical purposes. 
Some apparently remarkable results have been ob- 
tained. But it is difficult to tell how much is due 
to selection and crossing and how much to muta- 
tion. Selection will of course increase the 
chances of a mutation in the direction of the 
selecting. It is questionable whether the idea of 
rate of biological changes can be expressed any 
more briefly than has been done in the preceding 



The particular purpose of our inquiry is to 

compare the rate of biological change with the 
rate of cultural change. Comparisons would be 
more satisfactory if time and quantity units could 
be found. Realizing these inadequacies in meas- 
urement and difficulties in conceptions, there 
does, however, seem to be meaning and truth to 
the statement that within the last several hundred 
years the number and rate of cultural changes 
have been much greater than the number and rate 
of biological changes. For instance, Japan has 
made remarkable changes in her culture within a 
few decades. It would have been impossible for 
her people to have changed biologically in this 
time. Within the span of a single lifetime a 
people may now-a-days change its culture greatly. 
Seen in this general way, in the long period of the 
beginnings of culture there may have been some 
agreement in the rate of biological change and in 
the rate of cultural change ; but, in the latter per- 
iod of the development of culture, rates of biolog- 
ical change could not possibly have kept pace with 
the rates of cultural change. The idea may be 
otherwise expressed by saying that at the present 
time inventions are more frequent than mutations. 
Inventions are matters of record in the patent 
offices. But it is questionable whether a single 
definite mutation in recent man can be pointed to 
with certainty. Egyptian biological types have 
persisted as shown by the measurements on skele- 


tons from the pyramids and on modern skulls, but 
how greatly has culture changed since that time ! 

The foregoing examination of the fragmentary 
record of the evolution of man shows that at least 
as far back as 50,000 to 25,000 years ago, man 
had evolved and was in Europe. There may 
have been mutations in man since this time. The 
differentiation into types which may have taken 
place since that time would seem to indicate such 
mutations. Very lightly pigmented skin appear- 
ing in different parts of the world has been spoken 
of as a mutation. There may also have been 
changes in the structure of the brain or of the 
nervous system. It is recalled, however, that the 
anatomical measurements of man 25,000 years 
ago compare quite closely with the anatomical 
measurements of man to-day. There may have 
been evolution in man since the last ice age, but it 
seems to me that it has not been definitely proved. 
That some changes have occurred seems theoreti- 
cally probable, but just what they are or how 
significant they are we do not know. If four 
generations be reckoned to the century there are 
then 100,000 generations for the period, which 
is of course to be multiplied by the population 
which was a good deal smaller before the develop- 
ment of civilization and is smaller the further 
back one goes. But just what these possible 
changes are has not been recorded. The number 

of characters in man that might mutate is vast. 
Chance probably favors the smaller mutations 
and selection has probably been in the direction of 
greater mental ability. 

While the biological evolution in man within 
the past 25,000 years is problematical and has not 
been proved, there has certainly been a great 
development in culture, which in recent years is 
very remarkable. If the biological factor has 
not varied over recent periods of time, then how 
could it account for the great variations occurring 
in a culture which is rapidly changing? To the 
readers who have hitherto assumed a high cor- 
relation between biological changes and cultural 
changes, the possibility of civilization's growing 
to what it is, with native mental ability remaining 
constant at the level it was during the last ice 
age may seem surprising, and such readers may 
be at a loss to account for the great development 
of culture. But if material culture grows 
through selective accumulations and inventions, 
in which the preceding stage of cultural develop- 
ment plays a large part in determining the extent, 
nature and rapidity of the next step in cultural 
development, it seems to be possible theoretically, 
for the development of culture to have been what 
it has been without the occurrence of any biologi- 
cal evolution in man during the process. In other 
words, if modern Europeans could have been set 

back to the last ice age, but without their culture 
and acquired knowledge, it is open to question 
whether the development of culture would have 
been more rapid than it has been. Such a ques- 
tion may be asked and though present informa- 
tion does not warrant a conclusive answer, one 
should hesitate to guess that the culture would 
have grown any more quickly than it has grown. 
If the stability of human nature over a very 
long period of time, say from the last ice age to 
the present time, could be fully demonstrated, the 
significance of such knowledge would be of far- 
reaching importance, in many fields of thought 
and speculation. It would be of great impor- 
tance for ethics, for sociology and especially for a 
study of problems of adjustment between culture 
and human nature. The evidence surveyed in the 
preceding pages suggests very strongly that 
changes in human nature by mutations have prob- 
ably been slow and very slight over a long period 
of time. There were very probably changes in 
human nature preceding the last ice age, but it has 
not been proven that there have been any changes 
since. What has visibly changed and to a great 
degree is the cultural expression of human nature. 
But this is very probably due to changes in cul- 
ture and not in the biological nature of man. 
Commonly the term, human nature, does not 
mean the original nature of man but the cultural 


expression of original human nature. It has been 
said that it is the culture which makes it human 
nature instead of animal nature. Of course, the 
cultural expression of human nature has changed 
greatly. Man to-day may be more spiritual and 
has greater ability. But this spirituality or this 
ability may be due to learned tendencies and ac- 
quired modifications, which hold only for the ex- 
perience of a lifetime. Experience in culture pro- 
duces great changes, but they are not modifications 
in the original nature of man, nor are they inher- 
ited. The evidence indicates a lack of correla- 
tion between cultural changes and biological 
changes, if not before the last ice age certainly af- 

There is another subject, closely related to 
social evolution, in which a great deal of work 
has been done, bearing on the question of the 
correlation between biological variation and cul- 
tural variation. This is the subject of compara- 
tive ethnology. So extensive has been the re- 
search in this field that a brief summary would 
require as lengthy a presentation as has been made 
of social evolution. The general nature of some 
of the evidence relating to race and culture can be 
seen, however, from a few illustrations. Con- 
sider, for Instance, the data from the American 
continent. The American Indian is generally 
admitted to be homogeneous from the racial 


standpoint. Some are tall and some are short 
and there is variation in head form, but as a 
whole they are a racial type with a fairly close re- 
semblance. Yet the culture of the American In- 
dian at the time of the coming of the white men 
showed very great variation. The culture, for 
instance, of the Northern Athabascans or of some 
of the California tribes shows a very crude ma- 
terial culture, only a slight development of social 
organization and a low development of art. 
These are small wandering bands living on roots, 
herbs and game. In contrast, there is a high 
development of culture along the North Pacific 
coast, a culture distinguished with prominence in 
social classes, ceremonials, decorative and dram- 
atic art, boats and houses. In Central America 
and Southern Mexico were highly organized so- 
cial systems, elaborate stone temples, agriculture, 
pottery, a numeral system, astronomical knowl- 
edge, and beginnings of writing. Certainly the 
variations in culture are great for a people of a 
rather homogeneous racial type. But it may be 
argued that even within a people of the same 
racial type a slight biological variation in mental 
ability may account for vast cultural differences. 
But this remains unproved, for the American In- 
dian and the variation in inherent mental ability 
is unmeasured. There seems to be no particular 
correlation between the bodily measurements on 


stature, head form, color, or facial angle with 
these varying degrees of cultural develop- 

It may then be asked, How is this great cul- 
tural variation to be explained? This is a ques- 
tion the answer to which, for even a single cul- 
tural trait, can only be made after a definite his- 
torical account. The cultural history should cer- 
tainly first be known before jumping to the rather 
obscure biological explanation. There are, how- 
ever, certain general explanations that have been 
found to be of quite wide significance in account- 
ing for cultural developments and hence cultural 
variations. Briefly, some of these are the fol- 
lowing. The culture of a particular group grows 
by borrowings, which occur through cultural con- 
tacts of varying degrees. Geographical isolation 
acts thus as a hindrance to the spread of culture. 
Contacts of peoples facilitate the spread of cul- 
ture. The contact in one group of two different 
cultures may result in new formations. The ex- 
isting cultural base of a group not only has an 
effect on the future inventions, but it has a selec- 
tive effect on diffusion. A nomadic group is not 
so likely to borrow pottery-making as an agricul- 
tural community. Some things spread rather 
easily, as, for instance, the use of tobacco. The 
adoption of other cultural features is more diffi- 
cult. The adoption of the gun might reduce the 

food supply and cause extensive changes. There 
is in the culture of a group usually a fairly close 
integration or interrelation of the various parts 
as in a complicated machine ; and a single change 
in one of the parts necessitates considerable re- 
organization, thus making barriers to diffusion. 
Food is always an important feature of the cul- 
ture and a change in food, as, for instance, the 
introduction of maize, usually means many read- 
justments and many borrowings. If two cultures 
are widely different the integration of each may 
be such as to make adoptions difficult. Other 
features of cultural change and diffusion might 
be cited. The excellent ethnological work of the 
American school of anthropologists among the 
American Indians, has resulted in their pointing 
out many purely cultural accounts of cultural 
variations, and has led to a considerable develop- 
ment of theory of cultural diffusion. 

Before leaving the subject of cultural explana- 
tions of cultural differences, one other point of 
interest may be mentioned. Some cultural dif- 
ferences between groups are so great as to be 
astounding. This is particularly true where com- 
parisons of primitive cultures are made with the 
highly developed modern culture. Certainly one 
cause of this great discrepancy is the differences 
in the rates of cultural growth. The survey of 
the rise of culture in Europe showed it to have 


been very slow indeed at first, gradually getting 
faster and in the latter phase growing with great 
rapidity. The growth of a culture that has 
reached the point of extremely rapid change will, 
within a definite period of time, say, five hundred 
years, be immensely greater than the growth, 
within the same time, of a culture that has not 
reached the stage of such rapid change. If such 
a comparison be thought of as a race between 
two cultures, the one will in the same period of 
time greatly outdistance the other, which will 
seem to be left hopelessly behind. The original 
disparity between two such cultures may have been 
due to relative degrees of isolation or other cul- 
tural factors. Theoretically, once such a great 
difference is established between two such cultures, 
it seems difficult for the difference to be lessened, 
for the reason that diffusion of culture is more 
difficult where the differences are very great. It 
is true the Japanese took over in large part west- 
ern culture, and China may do so, but if the Jap- 
anese culture had been in the neolithic stage it 
would certainly have been most diflicult for it to 
have been brought up quickly to the stage at- 
tained in modern Europe. 


The presentation of the analysis of some as- 

pects of social evolution has been quite long to 
read and somewhat involved. It therefore seems 
desirable to summarize the argument. In Part I 
was shown the necessity of segregating the biologi- 
cal factor and the cultural factor. This differ- 
entiation was thought to be desirable for the 
study of social evolution. Students of social evo- 
lution do not generally make such a segregation 
of factors ; in fact, many students think social evo- 
lution is caused by biological evolution. Good 
methodology warrants an account of social 
evolution in terms of cultural records before 
recourse is had to the more obscure biological 

Accordingly the growth of material culture 
since its beginnings in the early ice ages was sub- 
jected to analysis. Material culture appears to 
grow by means of inventions which are seldom 
lost but which accumulate. Thus the material 
culture grows larger and larger. As the material 
culture grows larger more inventions are, on the 
average, made. The extent of the material cul- 
ture base is a factor in the frequency of inven- 
tions. Thus material culture tends to accumulate 
more rapidly. The result is more rapid social 
change, increased specialization and differentia- 
tion. In very early times, material culture was 
small in amount and changed slowly. Such was 

the condition for a long time. Recently the ma- 
terial culture has grown to a vast amount and is 
changing very rapidly. 

Considering now the biological factor, the re- 
cords of ancient man indicate a significant evolu- 
tion from the early Pleistocene period to the last 
glacial period. But since the last ice age, exter- 
nal measurements make it seem probable that 
there has been no significant evolution in these 
characters in man, and certainly do not prove it 
conclusively. Studies of heredity show that mu- 
tations occur only infrequently. Probabilities are 
that some change has taken place in some of the 
many characters of man since the last ice age; 
but the incomplete record does not show them and 
nothing is known as to what characters may have 
changed nor their significance. Biological change 
over the last two thousand years must be ex- 
ceedingly slight, if it has occurred at all. 

But the cultural change over the past two 
thousand years has been extraordinarily great. 
Therefore there appears to be for this period 
no correlation beween cultural changes and bio- 
logical changes. Cultural evolution is thus not 
to be accounted for by biological evolution. In- 
deed, since the last ice age it may be that the vast 
cultural growth has taken place without any sig- 
nificant biological evolution in man. Once given 


a level of biological equipment, culture may go on 
Increasing at a rapid rate without any biological 
change. The significance of the biological fac- 
tor for the study of social evolution is thus some- 
what more limited than is usually thought. 




In the previous discussion we have been con- 
cerned with how culture changes. We wish now 
to inquire into why culture does not change. It 
has been observed that culture does not die as 
human beings do but goes on. The persistence of 
culture at times appears so strong that it seems 
as though culture actually resists change. There 
certainly is a resistance to change as any modern 
social reformer will testify. Why is it so diffi- 
cult to change culture for those who wish to make 
progress? Is it due to any resisting quality in 
culture? Or is it due to traits in human beings 
that resist social change? Is the slowness of 
culture to change a hindrance to the improvement 
of social conditions or a measure of social order 
and stability? In the pages which follow, it is 
proposed to consider some of the more promin- 
ent and more frequently cited types of resist- 
ance to change, as, for instance, the so-called sur- 
vivals, the more common explanations of cultural 
inertia, and some instances of modern conserva- 
tism. The examination will concern both cultu- 
ral and psychological factors. It is hoped that 


such an inquiry will throw more light on the na- 
ture of the social heritage and social change. 


The study of the slowness of culture to change 
has been approached by the various writers from 
several different points of view. One of the ear- 
lier conceptions is that of survivals. Tylor in 
his Primitive Culture studied at length cultural 
forms that had apparently persisted beyond their 
usefulness and these he called survivals. Exam- 
ples of these survivals are folklore, proverbs, cus- 
toms, superstitions, and magical practices. Thus, 
the presence among European peoples of super- 
stitions regarding sneezing is found to date back 
to a time when spirits, which were thought to 
reside in the body, passed in and out through the 
breath and sneezing was thus a peculiar manifes- 
tation of some spiritual activity. Hence certain 
bodily motions were performed after sneezing 
in deference to the spirit. The development of 
science has shown the absurdity of such beliefs 
yet the practices continue to survive. Tylor's 
main purpose, however, was not so much to note 


or explain a resistance to change as to find in 
these survivals evidence of the evolution of cul- 
ture, and to show that culture passed through cer- 
tain stages In the course of evolution. 

The idea of survivals had previously been 
formed in biology in the study of embryology. 
According to the so-called "recapitulation theory" 
the life of the individual Is supposed to repeat the 
history of the species. So signs of gills were 
observed at certain stages of human foetal deve- 
lopment and were taken as an Indication that the 
embryo in its development passed through 
the fish stage in the course of evolution. Thus 
the signs of gills of fishes in the foetus are 
a survival In man of an earlier evolu- 
tionary stage. In a somewhat similar way 
evidence of an earlier primitive culture survived 
into the modern phase of culture. Although the 
evolution theory seems to have been the occa- 
sion of these observations, yet it did appear that 
certain types of culture, especially certain cus- 
toms, seemed to resist change. 

Students of another field of ethnology and with 
a somewhat different purpose, have also called 
attention to the peculiar persisting quality of cul- 
ture. These are the students who use etymo- 
logy* and particularly kinship terms, to gain an 
insight into the unwritten history of an earlier 
period. The early Aryan culture of Europe was 

studied by means of the persistence of certain 
words in our language. For instance, the word, 
pecuniary, goes back through the Latin, pecu- 
nium, to the Sanskrit, pagu, meaning cattle. The 
etymology of certain words in the various lan- 
guages shows they go back to an earlier language 
possessed by the Aryans; and in this way the 
earlier Aryan culture can be described. Simi- 
larly, existing kinship terms of a particular peo- 
ple give evidence of a prior family or marital con- 
dition. Thus, language as a special form of cul- 
ture has a certain persistence, as the simplified 
spelling reformers also have had occasion to ob- 

Recently, the modern ethnologists have given 
the name, cultural inertia, to the apparent slow- 
ness of culture to change. Their observations 
cover a very great variety of phenomena, from 
folklore to material culture. Such observations 
are particularly noticeable in the study of cul- 
ture areas, and the influence of the diffusion of 
culture. Sometimes culture does not spread very 
quickly, when it would be expected to if judged 
on the basis of contact through geographical lo- 
cation. For instance, the cultures of the Hopi 
and of the Navaho though in daily contact show 
little tendency to merge. A people will migrate 
from the seacoast inland and will continue to 
carry certain figures of the sea in their mythol- 


ogies. Boas cites from Bogoras the case of the 
Chuckchee who became nomadic and instead of 
developing the light tent, continued to use quite 
clumsily a complicated structure resembling their 
former permanent dwellings. ^ Ethnology af- 
fords many examples of what appears to be a 
sort of resistance of culture to change, and such 
a tendency is seen in many features of culture. 
Still another source of interest in the slowness 
of culture to change is the modern social reform 
movement. Modern society is divided into more 
or less loosely defined groups, called conservative 
and radical. The latter group are much im- 
pressed with the slowness of social change. For 
instance, political reformers in the United States 
worked for many years to get the national gov- 
ernment to adopt a budget system to replace the 
old haphazard, uneconomical, logrolling method. 
The old United States National Banking system 
lasted for many years after it was known that 
a centralized system of credit and an elastic 
bank-note system were needed. Industry paid 
the cost of several severe panics before the Fed- 
eral Reserve Banking system was adopted. The 
separation of the executive and legislative func- 
tions of our government continues to exist, des- 
pite the fact that the government practically 
ceases to function on important and urgent issues 

1 FraDz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man, p. x6a. 

when the President and Congress are of a differ- 
ent political complexion. The inadequacies and 
wastes of private industry which is run for profit 
rather than service are shown in various reports, 
yet the system continues year after year funda- 
mentally unchanged. Such claims of radicals 
and liberals to-day show the great importance of 
cultural inertia and furnish abundant evidence 
of it. 

From several different sources, then, there ap- 
pears to be very strong persistence of culture. 
Such conditions call for explanation. Such an 
explanation is of especial importance for theories 
of progress and of particular interest to those 
who are attempting to control and direct social 
changes towards social progress. 



Our first consideration of cultural inertia will 
be of the survivals emphasized particularly by 
Tylor, and which have since been quite widely 
discussed. These survivals, it is recalled, are 
frequently old customs such as the use of mistle- 
toe at Christmas time, the riderless horse at a 

funeral, the use of the ring in the marriage cere- 
mony, children's games with the bow and arrow, 
and various superstitions, magical practices, and 
proverbs. A mere recounting of some of these 
old customs suggests immediately why they are 
thought of as survivals. Mistletoe, because of 
the peculiarity of its green growth in a leafless 
tree in the winter, presumably possessed certain 
magical properties which were of religious signi- 
ficance according to the religious ideas of early 
times. It was used in ceremonies of the Druids 
and was later fused into Christmas customs. 
With better knowledge concerning the growth of 
plants and with changed religious concepts, there 
is no longer any mystical religious significance to 
this pecuhar plant. Nevertheless its use con- 
tinues in our Christmas festival. The custom is 
therefore said to survive beyond the period of 
culture in which its relative significance was great. 
Marett has spoken of this process which results 
in survivals as a transvaluatlon of culture, and 
the particular type of transvaluatlon just dis- 
cussed, he calls metataxis. He likens this pro- 
cess to ''casting out of the parlor the unfashion- 
able bit of furniture and placing it downstairs 
in a corner of the kitchen or of the children's 
play room," or again, "these fables, proverbs or 
the leechcraft prescriptions In vogue to-day among 


the folk are but the debased product of yesterday's 
official wisdom." ^ 

As Marett has pointed out and as Tylor real- 
ized, these old customs do not last on as does a 
fossil. They are not dead in the sense of be- 
ing functionless or not being put to use. Rather 
their valuation has been changed. Their use is 
no longer in the parlor or living room but is now 
in the kitchen or the children's play room. They 
survive in the sense of living on as a thing of 
utility rather than as lasting on as skeletal re- 

Thus, it is easily seen that though bows and 
arrows were useful as instruments of adult war- 
fare, and are no longer of use in modern society 
for such a purpose, nevertheless they may be 
useful as playthings for children. Similarly, pro- 
verbs may have at one time been the highest ex- 
pression of wisdom, yet they may be very useful 
forms of expression for ideas to-day, even though 
they be expressed In similes of the chase, or in 
phrases of a nomadic life. The vitality of 
Christmas as a festival may be less in our modern 
city life with our changed ideas of religion, but 
still It may serve certain purposes of social life. 

The usefulness of some of those survivals 
called superstitions is not so apparent. Of what 
use or purpose, it may be asked, are certain 

2 R. R. Marett, Psychology and Folklore^ p. 109. 


taboos or beliefs in luck, or certain signs and 
divinations? Whether these survivals be so- 
cially useful or not they are certainly not fossils, 
for they do function in the life of the folk. 
Indeed, they may not only not serve any good 
social end, they may be socially harmful. The 
use of certain herbs, roots and quack medicines 
is harmful. The planting of crops according 
to signs of the stars may be bad agricultural 
practice. Funeral customs may be injurious to 
health. Although these features of culture are 
of no good social use and indeed may be socially 
harmful, it can be maintained, it is thought, that 
they possess a certain utility, that is, they at- 
tempt to supply a want or to meet a psychologi- 
cal need. A person is sick and wants to do 
something to get well. If he hasn't learned of 
the achievements of science in medicine he will 
follow the existing cultural practices of his group. 
There are many occasions in life when the crav- 
ing to know the future is very strong. Lacking 
a conception of scientific standards of prediction 
or an ability to apply them, one may very easily 
use mysterious signs, particularly if this cultural 
practice is existing and easy of access. Similarly, 
though some funeral customs may be harmful, 
they may be a means of meeting individual desire 
for expressing sorrow or of meeting the group 
standards in this regard. As seen from the 

above considerations, it is maintained that, 
though objects of material culture, such as ruins, 
may survive as fossils, forms of culture such as 
customs, beliefs, religions, survive because of 
a utility they possess in meeting psychological 


The idea of utility of culture can be assumed, 
it would seem, in nearly all cases of survival or 
where culture exists. Sometimes the material 
objects of culture may exist without being used; 
but nearly all cultural forms are put to some 
use. Utility is simply another word for useful- 
ness with the conception of good and bad omitted. 
The word, wantability, has been suggested by 
Professor Irving Fisher as equivalent In mean- 
ing to utility. * The utility of the cultural forms 
means that they satisfy some individual or social 
want. Any features of culture other than mater- 
ial objects, such as customs, beliefs, religious prac- 
tices, folk ways, superstitions, social habits, and 

3 Irving Fisher, "Is Utility the Most Suitable Term?" Amer- 
ican Economic Revie^w, Vol. VIII (1918), No. 2, p. 335. 


philosophies that exist may be said to have util- 
ity to satisfy some psychological need. 

It does not follow of course that the psycholog- 
ical need creates the cultural form; nor indeed 
that only one cultural form will satisfy a parti- 
cular desire. One cannot start from the side of 
desire, assume a certain set of desires, and pre- 
dict the culture. In fact, very little is known 
about the etiology of desires. They are very 
complex; they shift and change; and fuse or 
pull at cross-purposes, resulting in conflict. Past 
cultural experiences play a part in directing the 
motivation. A single cultural form may answer 
several widely differing desires. So that while 
a knowledge of the psychology of desires does 
not enable one to account for a particular type 
of culture, nevertheless a knowledge of desires, 
once a cultural form is attained, does yield a 
fuller understanding of its use. Thus a definite 
instance of a burial custom or of a taboo, or such 
a custom as cowvade may be accounted for his- 
torically, yet it may be so strange as to be hardly 

In such a case a knowledge of the behavior 
of desires, say, in the cases of mental con- 
flict may render this cultural usage more In- 
telligible. Thus to see individuals eat a piece 
of food or build a shelter or dance does not 

seem strange; the desires back of such activities 
are understood. But the fascination of a people 
for a myth of a man marrying his mother or an 
exogamous taboo or the feigning of sickness by 
a man at the birth of his child is not so easily 
understood and a greater knowledge of psychol- 
ogy would certainly help to understand such a 
cultural form. To say, therefore, that a survi- 
val is not a fossil but really meets a psychological 
need is a very generalized explanation of sur- 
vivals. It cannot be predicted what cultural 
form will survive and what cultural form will not 
survive because the psychological need is not the 
only factor and because we do not know enough 
about psychological needs. There are also cul- 
tural or historical reasons why a particular piece 
of culture survives. The particular psychologi- 
cal desires which a survival tends to meet must 
be analyzed in each particular case. 

From the foregoing analysis of survivals it 
would seem that there is no particular property 
of culture as such that shows a peculiar resist- 
ance to change. Culture once in existence tends 
to exist for the reason that it has utility, very 
much as a physical mass at rest tends to remain 
at rest. In each case the phenomenon is re- 
ferred to as inertia. In case of an invention of 
a cultural form superior in utility, there is a dis- 
placement. Thus metal weapons replace bows 


and arrows and archery survives only as a chil- 
dren's game. Literature and science replace folk- 
lore and witchcraft in the well-to-do classes, but 
the replacement is slower among the more igno- 
rant folk. It seems that the peculiarity called 
survival consists not so much in any new principle 
of resistance to change but rather in the ex- 
tremely Interesting way in which it furnishes clews 
to previously existing stages of culture. The sur- 
viving culture occupied a place of importance in 
an earlier culture compared to its unimportant 
place In modern culture, and hence helps to tell 
the story of an earlier culture. 

Another illustration of what seems to be an im- 
pressive instance of cultural resistance to change 
is the case where a cultural form or activity is 
employed for one purpose at one time and later 
the same form or activity serves another and dif- 
ferent purpose. The same piece of culture per- 
sists through several different usages. Such is 
the case to a certain degree in survivals. The re- 
ligious significance of mistletoe has disappeared 
but its festival use remains. Tylor's account of 
the origin of drinking to one's health shows that 
at one time it was a ceremony performed with 
a mystical fluid in connection with the ceremony 
of the dead. Its use is now quite festive. It 
seems that in some of these cases of persistence, 
the culture persisting possessed two or more utili- 

ties, or what J. B. Clark calls a bundle of utili- 
ties ; at one time the one utility being more promi- 
nent than another. In the course of time the 
first utility diminishes in significance while an- 
other increases. Thus, a certain rite may promote 
both religious and social activity. But the once 
dominant religious appeal may give way to the 
rise of the expression of sociability. Cultural 
forms frequently involve many different psycho- 
logical responses at the same time. The church 
may satisfy certain religious, ethical and social 
needs, religion itself, of course, being a complex 
of psychological motives. It is thus thinkable 
though not necessarily probable that in the future 
the church may become a social or ethical insti- 
tution with a diminishing religious significance. 
Similarly, the family as an institution answers 
a number of needs: economic, affectional, pro- 
tective, recreative, etc. In some cultures the af- 
fectional element has been slight, affection find- 
ing an outlet elsewhere, and the economic element 
has been strong; in other cultures the economic 
element has been slight and the affectional bond 
strong. Furthermore, the same activity may oc- 
cur from different motives. Thus one may steal 
to establish a reputation for cleverness or bra- 
very as is true in some cultures, or one may steal 
for bodily needs as sometimes occurs among 
slaves. Therefore the same cultural form or 

activity may serve different psychological needs 
at different times. 



Cultural forms may persist apparently because 
it is easier to use an existing form than it is to 
create a new one. The new idea is expressed in 
the old form. The Monroe Doctrine, as an ex- 
pression of the foreign policy of America, was 
at the time of its origin a doctrine designed to 
protect the United States from the indirect ag- 
gression of foreign powers. It may very prob- 
ably change its meaning, if the imperialistic sen- 
timent in the United States should grow, and 
become an instrument for economic aggran- 
dizement on the part of the United States. This 
old and revered doctrine of foreign policy might 
more easily be expressive of the new ideas of 
imperialism than some new document. Thus the 
difficulty of inventing and of getting the invention 
adopted and the ease of revaluing an old cul- 
tural form account for very striking persistences 
of culture. Lowie cites from Boas * the use of 

* Franz Boas, "The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson 
Bay," Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 
XVII (1907), pp. 75, 357. 


a stone lamp by the Eskimo of Southhampton 
Island as such a case of cultural inertia. 

Thus the Central Eskimo generally make lamps and 
pots out of soapstone. In Southhampton Island, where 
this material is lacking, they have not devised a new form 
but have at the expense of much ingenuity and labor 
cemented together slabs of limestone so as to produce 
the traditional shape.^ 

The difficulty of inventing and spreading an 
invention may mean that new demands or valua- 
tions are met by the use of old forms, it being 
easier to transvalue an existing form than to 
invent a new one. 

It should be observed that the difficulty of in- 
venting, as a cause of cultural inertia, only ap- 
pears as a factor when one looks backward into 
the past after the Invention has been made. At 
a particular time when an Invention has not been 
made or conceived, the continued existence of 
culture does not appear as anything unusual. 
It Is rather the ordinary thing, as was previously 
expressed by saying that culture once In exist- 
ence and having utility continues to exist until 
replaced by an Invention or until lost through 
some cause. But where there is a change In 
the use of an old cultural form, the trait called 
cultural inertia Is prominent and the explana- 

• Robert H. Lowie, Culture and Ethnology, p. 59. 


tlon may be that an old form is put to new 
uses more easily than a new form is invented. 

The slowness of culture to change also seems 
notable when one observes that the culture of 
one people, as in the case of China in the nine- 
teenth century, seems to resist outside influences, 
that is, new forms existing in other cultures are 
not adopted or utilized. This failure is some- 
times credited to the inability of a people to 
take over a higher culture. Such a characteri- 
zation is, it seems to me, an unsatisfactory way 
of expressing it because the implication is that 
the cause of the phenomena lies in the ability 
of the people, or lack of it, whereas the difficul- 
ties may be largely cultural. Thus the Mexi- 
cans seem slow to borrow the culture of the 
United States. The culture in the southern Ap- 
palachian mountains in Tennessee, Kentucky and 
North Carolina seems to be a survival of an 
older culture; the mountaineers have never uti- 
lized the advantages of modern industrial cul- 
ture about them. Where diffusion of culture is 
difficult, there seems to be an inertia of culture. 
This apparent cultural inertia is partly a matter 
of perspective. From the vantage point of an 
outsider, it seems that the Hopi are slow to 
change their culture, but the Hopi probably are 
not so Impressed with this point of view. And 
froip the point of view of one having the higher 

material culture the slowness of the Mexican or 
mountaineer culture to change may seem a good 
indication of cultural inertia. Slowness of cul- 
ture to change not only varies according to per- 
spective but slowness is a relative term and im- 
plies a standard of comparison. But even grant- 
ing that some cases of cultural inertia may be 
somewhat Illusory because of the perspective, still 
it is quite true that a vast amount of cultural 
inertia is as a matter of fact due to difficulties of 
cultural diffusion. 

What cultural difficulties are there to the 
spread of culture? Some of these have already 
been indicated in another connection in the pre- 
vious section. A record of these difficulties 
leads to an understanding of cultural inertia or 
why culture does not change more rapidly. It 
is very easy to see how geographical isolation may 
act as a barrier to the Introduction of new cul- 
tural ideas, and thus the isolated culture will con- 
tinue to exist with relatively little change. A cul- 
ture completely isolated would depend for change 
on inventions within itself; where it is not iso- 
lated there Is the opportunity to borrow inventions 
made in many different areas. The culture of the 
isolated regions certainly appears inert by com- 
parison with a rapidly changing culture. The 
culture continues because of its utilities and is 


relatively unchanging because cut off from new 
forms and ideas from the outside. 

It is also easily seen that barriers to cultural 
dissemination may lie in climate or in absence of 
natural resources. The absence of coal and iron 
greatly hinders the introduction of the modern 
machine industry and the various correlated fea- 
tures. Trade and exchange greatly lessen these 

Cultural forms or ideas vary greatly in their 
correlation to other parts of culture. Coffee- 
drinking is not closely dependent on other fea- 
tures of culture nor are other features of culture 
dependent on coffee. Presumably coffee-drink- 
ing could spread very rapidly over large areas, 
provided coffee could be secured. Other parts 
of culture that are more strongly interdependent, 
such as methods of transportation, or manufac- 
ture or changes in food production, entail a great 
many fundamental changes in the culture into 
which they are being adopted. Such correlated 
changes are obstacles to diffusion. Some object 
of material culture, say A, is dependent on a 
number of other objects or inventions, say B, C, 
D, E, F. It would be difficult for such an object 
A to be adopted into another culture which did 
not possess B, C, D, E, F. 

Some such difficulties of diffusion exist between 


two cultures where there is considerable disparity 
between the cultures, one being much more ad- 
vanced in technology than another. The greater 
the difference between two cultures the greater the 
difficulty of cultural diffusion. There are so 
many fundamental parts of material culture with 
their many dependent subsidiary inventions, that 
the task of assimilating them is immense. To the 
person who has the advantage of the use of the 
higher material technology, the lower material 
culture seems very slow indeed in changing. 

Another difficulty of diffusion lies in the fact 
that cultures appear to have a certain equilibrium 
or balance, like that of an elaborate machine, and 
in such a case the introduction of a new cultural 
feature of a fundamental sort will necessitate con- 
siderable readjustment and modification of the 
culture as a whole. This statement, of course, is 
very general. Culture also, it is admitted, has 
the appearance somewhat of segmentation, that is, 
a portion can be changed with only slight effect on 
the whole. Although this independence of cul- 
tural features exists, nevertheless there is con- 
siderable interdependence also. Consider, for in- 
stance, in our own culture how many cultural ob- 
jects are dependent on rubber. Imagine the rub- 
ber supply cut off and think what rearrangement 
and readjustments would have to be made. Or, 
imagine the exhaustion of the supply of lubricat- 


ing oils. The introduction of a new source of 
machine power would produce profound effects. 
Although the adoption of some new cultural fea- 
tures does involve the task of considerable social 
rearrangement, it is questionable how much such 
entailment and difficulty act as a barrier to the 
importation of culture. The American Indians of 
Washington Territory argued against any adop- 
tion of culture from the whites because of the de- 
structive effect such contacts had had on the In- 
dians in Oregon. But the consequences of the 
borrowing of culture are not always seen nor 
thought out beforehand. 

The foregoing illustrations suffice to point out 
certain obstacles to the diffusion of culture. It 
can be readily seen from these considerations that 
difficulties of diffusion tend to bring into relief the 
phenomenon called cultural inertia. In all these 
cases the existing culture continues but is not 
changed because of obstacles to the importation 
of new cultural elements. In some cases, such as 
instances of isolation, the inertia seems most pro- 
minent, but the prominence of the inertia lies in 
the contrast of comparison rather than in any 
special quality of resistance to change inherent in 




Modern social problems are an especially good 
field for the study of factors affecting cultural 
changes. For, in the first place, there is a wealth 
of material, because at the present time many so- 
cial problems are occasioned by the frequent cul- 
tural changes. Furthermore, the student of mod- 
ern social changes has a certain advantage over 
the student of changes in earlier cultures because 
of the greater detail and fuller record. Of 
course the factors in modern social changes are 
not instantly clear, but they are certainly not as 
obscure as the forces of the remote past. Very 
probably, therefore, an examination of some pres- 
ent-day changes may reveal additional factors af- 
fecting cultural change. It is not necessarily 
true, though, that the same forces operating to- 
day to effect or resist cultural change have oper- 
ated at all times or operated In earlier cultures. 

One factor affecting change in modern society 
that is quite easily observed Is the power of a par- 
ticular economic class. Modern society Is differ- 
entiated into economic classes. Wealth and in- 

come are quite unequally distributed, so that one 
class or group has a very large proportion of the 
total amount. And there is plenty of evidence to 
show that the group or class that has the major 
portion of '*the good things of life'' Is not so 
eager for change as those whose incomes and ma- 
terial possessions are scant. Those who derive 
exceptional benefit from rent, Interest and profits 
resist changes that endanger or affect adversely 
these sources of income. The Interests of these 
groups have been referred to as "vested Interests." 
Groups not benefiting so much but suffering from 
the existing disposition of property are more 
likely to Institute and support changes. Two 
other points should be noted In this description. 
One is that the possession of money and property 
in modern society Is closely correlated with power. 
The other point Is that economic conditions are 
closely Interrelated with many other cultural 
features, so that many suggested changes to-day 
affect the economic situation and the effect of the 
economic situation In modern society reaches far 
into other fields of culture. The result is that an 
economic class Is In powerful opposition to a great 
many forces of social change. 

It Is also true, however, that the power of this 
economic class has been very Influential In pro- 
moting change. As employers they are In large 


part responsible for business enterprise, which has 
materially transformed the American continent in 
a very short while. Of course this material prog- 
ress Is not to be accounted for wholly as a result 
of the ability of the class of entrepreneurs. 
Much of this material change, through inventions, 
was inherent in culture; that is, such material 
changes as the development of steam and 
electrical power would probably have oc- 
curred under various systems of property distri- 
bution. Still, in the past, the opposition to busi- 
ness enterprise on the part of the wealthier 
class has not been conspicuous save in exceptional 
cases. In a society differentiated into social 
groups, some group will be Identified with the 
forces of change while another group with inter- 
ests more highly vested in the existing culture will 
resist the forces of change. 

Opposition by the vested interests to change 
has not been so frequently observed among the 
simpler cultures. However, a somewhat similar 
opposition to change among peoples with more 
primitive cultures seems indicated by Dr. Parsons 
in her study of custom.^ She points out that 
there is a "will-to-power" element in custom, 
which resists a change in the custom. This will- 
to-power is, however, rationalized, so that the 
true motive is not apparent. Thus certain rules 

«E. C. Parsons, Social Rule. 


of obedience for children seem designed for the 
comfort or power of the adult. The perpetua- 
tion of such rules may have utility for the more 
powerful class, here the parents and adults. 
So that in primitive society power Is unequally 
distributed. The elders, males, warriors, reli- 
gious leaders, may have much power, while slaves, 
women, or children have little. Such distribution 
of power may or may not be of value for survival 
or social welfare. The ^Vested interests" of these 
individuals thus favored by custom do not ac- 
tually appear as inimical to change, possibly be- 
cause the processes of change among primitive 
peoples are rare. The resistance of the "vested 
interests" to change is more evident in modern 

Those who have "vested Interests" derive a dif- 
ferential advantage under existing conditions and 
if they are likely to lose this advantage to others 
because of changes in the situation, then the 
"vested Interests" will offer a resistance to change. 
There arc of course "vested interests" in various 
social conditions, other than the purely economic. 
There are "vested Interests" In schools. In 
churches, in political organizations, and all resist 
changes that shake their Interests. 



Another reason for the slowness of culture to 
change is said to be a traditional hostility, inher- 
ent in the mores, towards the new among some 
peoples, particularly those with the simpler cul- 
tures. Numerous visitors from the Occident to 
the Orient have written of interesting illustrations 
of reverence for the past, or the old, and of 
marked hostility to innovations. In the west, on 
the other hand, there is boasting of a desire for 
improvement, of a willingness to experiment. 
Peoples living under primitive social conditions 
are said to have a reverence for the past, and a 
strong preference for doing a thing the way it has 
always been done. It appears possible, there- 
fore, for the mores in a particular culture to em- 
body a specific attitude towards change, either 
hostility towards change or a willingness to 

To the traveler from modern Europe or 
America, the definite hostility to change on the 
part of the Orientals or tribes with primitive so- 
cial conditions is a strange phenomenon. But the 

strangeness Is due to his own ignorance for the 
usual rule Is slowness of change, the exceptional 
is the rapidity of change as found In modern wes- 
tern cultures. Furthermore, this difference be- 
tween the reverence for the traditional and open- 
mindedness towards the experimental Is usually 
exaggerated. The willingness in modern civiliza- 
tion to experiment is only partial ; there are many 
suggestions that we are not willing to try. Fur- 
thermore, the difficulties of trying out new Ideas 
by peoples of lower material cultures is not ap- 
preciated by the glib visitor. No doubt some 
changes that are occurring escape the eye of the 
casual traveler. 

There are various reasons why the mores of 
modern peoples reveal a willingness to change. In 
the first place, the rate of making material in- 
ventions is much greater now than before and thus 
the peoples have become accustomed to changes 
through the appearance of these Inventions, the 
number and frequency of which are in part de- 
termined by the existing cultural accumulation. 
Furthermore, experimenting Is made more sure by 
knowledge. In the absence of science, experi- 
menting becomes a matter of haphazard trial and 
error, the error sometimes being quite probable 
and costly. The fact that the fear of failure 
may have been greater In more ignorant societies 


and the chances of success more probable under 
the advancement of knowledge of the present 
time is a factor in the greater readiness to experi- 
ment in modern times. 

Illustrating the possibility of a variety of fac- 
tors that may account for a readiness to accept 
change, one explanation of the progressivism of 
the western part of the United States may be 
cited. It has been claimed that the natural re- 
sources were so abundant and the assurance of the 
growth of population so great, that the chances 
of failure in business were much less than in other 
parts of the country. Hence there was a sort of 
willingness, indeed a premium on trying some- 
thing new, an experience which was extended to 
other fields than business. This account may or 
may not be true but it is clear that there are a 
number of reasons why in modern civilization 
there is a welcome for improvements. 

A very common explanation of why the so- 
called primitive peoples — not primitive peoples 
necessarily but peoples with primitive cultures — 
revere the past and resist change places the cause 
as fear and ignorance. The customary ways of 
doing things seem safe because they have been 
tried. Trial to the best of limited observation 
has proven success. Perhaps the opinion in 
primitive cultures is not so rationalistic nor so 
explicit as the foregoing, but is summed up in 

some such remark as "it has always been done." 
On the other hand, the new is the unknown, and 
doubly so if scientific development is slight. And 
if, in conjunction with the trial of the new, there 
occurs a death, disaster, disease or an unfortun- 
ate accident, they are linked as cause and effect, 
as has been frequently noted. A fear reaction 
follows which indicates a fear of the new, the un- 

So the mores in a culture may embody a defin- 
ite attitude for or against change.. The fre- 
quency of change, however, is not only a result of 
such an attitude but also a cause. If inventions, 
which are in part determined by the existing ma- 
terial culture, are frequent, a people becomes ac- 
customed to change and the hostility to change 
tends to be broken down. On the other hand, if 
material culture inventions are infrequent, change 
may be rare and feared. 



Slowness to change in modern terminology is 
called conservatism. Conservatism is considered 
an attribute of a people of a particular age and 
locality or as a trait of a special class of individ- 

uals. Although conservatism certainly has im- 
portant cultural factors, it is often thought of as 
a psychological trait. Existing accounts of con- 
servatism therefore tend to be psychological 
explanations. A consideration of some of 
these more or less psychological explanations 
of why culture is slow to change will be under- 

Before discussing certain psychological explana- 
tions of the slowness of culture to change, it is 
desirable to call attention to certain points of 
methodology involved in explaining social phe- 
nomena psychologically. The subject was dis- 
cussed somewhat in preceding sections, but there 
are so many aspects of the relation of sociology 
and psychology that the treatment never seems 
completed. The point has been taken that in 
analyzing social phenomena the explanation 
should first be historical or cultural. Very often 
when this is done, there seems no psychological 
problem left. But it is true that every cultural 
form or manifestation of behavior has its 
psychological side since it could not exist except 
through the agency of human beings. But be- 
cause prior psychological analyses have frequently 
led theorists astray, we are hardly justified in be- 
coming doctrinaire in our devotion to the his- 
torical method. On the other hand there are 
cases where a special knowledge of the psychol- 


ogy of behavior makes our understanding of so- 
cial forms and social behavior more complete 
than would be the case if the cultural factor only 
were considered. For Instance, incest taboos and 
marriage regulations may be quite fully described 
historically and culturally, yet there is something 
decidedly strange about incest and about marriage 
prohibitions. One's curiosity is not satisfied by 
the cultural facts. Psychology may be able to 
make the custom much clearer by its researches 
into mental conflict and repression of desire cen- 
tring around the relation of a child to its parent. 
Even when the psychology of incest Is known, it 
does not necessarily follow that regulations of 
incest will among all peoples be of the same form 
and of the same degree. The cultural situation 
may be a factor in determining the particular 
form. But the psychology of incest may also be 
necessary for understanding a particular form of 
regulation of incest. Another Illustration of the 
value of psychology is In the prosecution of crime. 
Crimes, no matter what their cultural forms may 
be, are not understood without a knowledge of 
motives. A historical description of the crime 
helps to reveal the motive, but a knowledge of 
the motive also helps to determine the facts, 
as every detective knows. 

Having pointed out certain relations between 
psychological and cultural causes, we shall now 

examine some of the psychological causes of con- 
servatism. Perhaps the most commonly noted 
psychological trait that resists change is habit. 
Habit is popularly thought of as the doing of a 
thing over again in the same way, that is, not in 
a new way; and the determining force of this re- 
petition, of the use of the old or previously used 
method, is supposed to come from within, from 
psychological or physiological sources. It there- 
fore follows that a part of our nature predis- 
poses us to behaving conservatively, that is, do- 
ing things in the same old way. How shall we 
evaluate this factor, habit, in cultural inertia? A 
number of points may be noted. 

In the first place our actions are not wholly 
governed by desires to do things in the same way. 
We love adventure, we are restless, we like to try 
new things in new ways. It may therefore be part 
of our nature to love the new as well as to love 
the old. And, if the problem could be thus sim- 
plified, what we should want would be some sort 
of quantitative estimate of these two tendencies. 

It should also be observed that in so far as 
habit as a purely psychological factor is an in- 
fluence in slowing up cultural changes, it oper- 
ated in ancient times as truly as now, for the 
psychological mechanisms of habit were present 
as truly in ancient man as in modern man. Of 
course one type of culture may call forth habitual 


behavior more than another type, but such 
changes in habit reactions will be due to a cul- 
tural factor and not a psychological factor, since 
the variation is in the culture and not in the ori- 
ginal nature of man. 

Furthermore, a good deal of what is called 
habit is attributed to forces inherent in the ori- 
ginal nature of man when it should be attributed 
to culture. The doing of certain activities over 
and over again, frequently called habits, is re- 
quired by culture and not by inward cravings. 
For instance, the daily routine of life is imposed 
in large part by the processes of social and indus- 
trial life; yet this is the type of activity that 
causes the remark that man is a creature of habit. 

A culture with orderliness and routine engen- 
ders repetition, which is called habit. If cul- 
ture were, extremely chaotic and continuously so, 
would the force of habit be so impressive? A 
part of the phenomenon called habit instead of 
being a cause of cultural inertia is a result. 

Perhaps, also, slowness to change is accredited 
to habit when it is caused by ignorance. If an 
American goes to Europe it will take him some 
time to get rid of his peculiarly American ways, 
and to adopt European manners. The difficulty 
and time required in learning these new customs 
is due in part to their strangeness or his igno- 
rance, as well as to habit. The response to stim- 


uli along new lines in a new culture often has to 
be learned through knowledge, and in ignorance 
the response is along the old familiar channels. 
A youth leaving home and the high school for col- 
lege makes a fairly sharp change in cultural en- 
vironment. It is usually estimated that it re- 
quires the whole freshman year to break the old 
habits and form the new. There seems to be 
a "hanging over" of old customs, resembling the 
previously discussed survivals. And no doubt 
the old habits have a certain utility, meet a psy- 
chological need, despite the fact that new cus- 
toms are superior. 

Nevertheless, even after all the foregoing qua- 
lifications and misinterpretations are admitted, 
there still remains the psychological phenomenon 
of habit. Certain responses to stimuli tend to 
follow a previously used channel somewhat more 
readily than to find a new one. That habit acts 
to make changes in social conditions slow seems to 
be a fact. That habits operate during a lifetime 
will be admitted; but at death these habits are 
broken and at birth new habits form. But the 
forces that made habits in the adult make habits 
in the young, particularly through the powerful 
influence of parents. In a culture that is rapidly 
changing, social forces will make habits in the 
young which will be somewhat different from the 

habits of adults because culture has changed 
within a generation. If the deaths in a society 
occurred all at one time and the births all at 
once, the change in culture would be more easily 
seen and such an abstraction illustrates the idea 
of the influence of habits in conserving culture. 
But deaths and births in a society are a more 
continual process. Nevertheless, the dying of 
influential elders speeds up somewhat cultural 

Education is a force which conserves culture 
from one generation to another, that is, educa- 
tion in a very broad sense as the learning that 
takes place outside the schoolroom as well as 
inside. Education is thus in very large measure 
the making acquainted of the young with the 
existing culture, and tends to strengthen the force 
of habit. Education of course can be made in 
part a training in experimentation and invention 
or even in spreading the newest culture instead of 
the old and thus assist cultural changes, but such 
a process will be a small part of education thus 
broadly conceived. A knowledge of habit does 
then throw some light on why culture changes 
slowly. It is well to remember, however, that 
habits are the result of cultural inertia as well 
as its cause, and that the purely psychological me- 
chanisms of habit were the same ten thousand 

years ago as they are to-day. If culture con- 
tinues to grow with an increasing number of 
changes, we shall become habituated to change. 


Another type of resistance to change, fre- 
quently discussed by social psychologists, is so- 
cially enforced conformity to group standards. 
Individuals are forced to abide by existing folk 
ways and rules by some sort of social pressure 
and fear of ostracism or punishment. Such 
forced conformity is usually to the existing stand- 
ards and hence appears to hinder change in the 
existing culture. Social pressure is also exerted 
in times of social change to force conformity to 
the new as in war time or as in fashion and styles 
of dress. But such group control seems to be 
much more prevalent in maintaining the present 
order by cutting off deviations from existing con- 
ditions and by restraining those who want to 
make radical changes. 

There are many reasons why one abides by 
custom. Habit is one such factor. But in ad- 
dition to habit, conformity to custom seems to 
be insisted upon, consciously or unconsciously by 

a group of others. One hesitates to deviate 
from a code of manners. A pressure to conform 
is felt if the prescribed regulation is broken. 
Conformity is found not only in connection with 
folk ways and customs, but social rules are quite 
consciously made, as in legislative enactments, 
and departure from them is prevented by the 
force of police, courts and penal institutions. 
These social phenomena have been described and 
analyzed as a form of social control by Ross and 
Giddings. Giddings, in describing the forces of 
social control, makes use of statistical terms, 
pointing out that, in society, there are modes 
which most behavior closely resembles and that 
extreme deviations from those modes are not al- 
lowed to occur. '^ Social pressure is like natural 
selection in biology. Distributions of biological 
specimens of a class cluster around a type or a 
mode. The reason for such a distribution is 
thought to be that there is a type adaptation and 
that extreme variations from type are eliminated 
by environmental forces. Natural selection tends 
to mold a type. In a somewhat similar way, in 
social phenomena, deviations from type are pre- 
vented by distinctly social forces. There is a 
social pressure which makes conformity to type. 
Thus there are certain rules and practices, in re- 

^F. H. Giddings, Studies in the Theory of Human Society, 
Chap. XII, p. Z97. 


gard to the employment of children in factories, 
which approach a standard or type, and there 
is a group force tending to make manufacturers 
and parents conform to this type as determined 
by law. 

Such control and conformity may be observed 
daily but the question is, How are such pheno- 
mena to be explained? No doubt under the 
term social control many diverse phenomena of 
various origins have been classified. But some 
of the more conspicuous factors will be consid- 
ered, with particular references to their psycho- 
logical and cultural nature. There is a distinct 
group aspect to such control. It is as though the 
opinion or will of the group is imposed on the 
individual. Individuals are particularly sensitive 
to the opinions of others and much of one's ac- 
tion is shaped with regard to the possible opinion 
of others. The drive to such behavior of indi- 
viduals may be quite fundamental and have its 
roots in gregariousness, sociability or self-submis- 
sion. The imposition of such rules of behavior 
implies a purely psychological basis of collective 
behavior. Also, collective effort towards the do- 
ing of anything, other than the simplest like re- 
sponse to stimuli, involves teamwork and coop- 
eration. The individual who interferes with such 
collective effort will tend to experience in some 
form of expression the resentment of the group. 

The cultural expression of such behavior will 
vary according to the particular type of culture. 
The cultural situation may be so ordered that for 
a time a minority or a single individual may 
thwart the unorganized or only partly realized 
desires of the majority. 

Collective activity is expedited through order- 
liness and definiteness, and one wonders if the fact 
that changes may disturb the orderliness of social 
organization tends to make changes less welcome. 
Civilization is orderly; its order is commented 
upon with pride. But is the order in society 
necessary because of the nature of culture or be- 
cause of the original social nature of man? It 
has been said that habit is a law of our being 
because habit by reducing actions to the auto- 
matic makes it possible for attention and con- 
sciousness to be fixed on choices and problems 
of importance. But such a statement unfortun- 
ately implies that the supposed purpose is the 
cause. However, social order does in a some- 
what similar way expedite social activities. Traf- 
fic along a crowded highway is aided by regula- 
tions. Living together in various social activities 
is made easier by the knowledge that comes from 
the definiteness and repetition of organization. 

Such organization aids prediction and facili- 
tates the making of correct judgment, all quite de- 
sired in the business of living. A man who trans- 


acts business, constructs a plan, or undertakes a 
venture, makes his judgments on a great many of 
the details by certain surface indications without 
conducting a thoroughgoing piece of research 
into the details. Consider the employment of a 
new employee. A very few data are often all 
that is necessary for such a purpose. Honesty, 
ability, loyalty, and certain other qualities are 
judged from the few data as indications, without 
knowing the full history and heredity of the 
individual employed. We can "size up'^ a person 
by his manners or his dress or his language, 
which could not be so easily done if customs were 
changing rapidly. It is a very important func- 
tion of manners that they do facilitate opinions 
and judgments. The desire for certainty, de- 
finiteness, facility and knowledge may be partly 
responsible for the orderliness of organization 
and resistance to changes that introduce confu- 

Of course, the variations in the degree of 
organization or orderliness are due more to 
variations in the cultural situation than to varia- 
tions in human beings. One cultural situation may 
mean a high degree of order, while another may 
mean considerable confusion, with no fundamen- 
tal change in human nature of the people. Still 
there seem to be certain psychological forces that 
tend to produce orderliness. There is therefore 


probably a social pressure towards orderliness, 
a tendency to prevent deviations in the direction 
of social confusion. It was previously pointed 
out that the slowness of culture to change was 
particularly noticeable in language, especially in 
written language. It is not wholly clear why 
language is so slow to change, but it would seem 
that no purely cultural explanation would be en- 
tirely satisfying. The psychological utility of 
orderliness would appear to be in large part the 
explanation of the stability of language. 

Another psychological aspect of social control 
lies in the social necessity of curbing egotism 
and selfishness. The functioning of one's de- 
sires is usually quite immediately and directly in 
the interests of one's self and not particularly 
in the interest of others. One usually feels one's 
own desires more urgently than the desires of 
others. In fact the appeal of one's own desires 
often overshadows and obscures the interests of 
others. It sometimes is necessary, therefore, for 
others to impose restrictions on the selfish desires 
of the individual. The individual must there- 
fore conform; and the danger of deviating from 
the accepted standard lies in the egotism of the 
particular individual's desires. It has been said, 
with some truth, that in all eccentricity there is 
a grain of egotism. Particularly in the breaking 
of customs is an outlet found for egotism, and 


in the requirements of custom Is likely to be seen 
the resentment against the egotism of others. 
The desirability of controlling the selfishness of 
the Individual for the sake of the welfare of 
others does appear as a factor In social pressure. 
That social pressure Is a force which frequently 
prevents deviations In the direction of the new, 
the stories of martyrs Indicate. 


Another psychological process that strengthens 
conservatism Is the tendency to forget the things 
that are unpleasant to remember, a tendency fre- 
quently observed by psychoanalysts. If memory 
Is thus selective, the past appears really brighter 
than It is and we are loath to change from the 
conditions of the past. 

The reader may be skeptical regarding the 
accuracy of the statement that there Is a tendency 
to forget things that are unpleasant to remember, 
especially since one readily recalls a number of 
unpleasant events of the past. We learn from 
the unpleasant experiences of life certain guid- 
ances for the future. The child who burns his 
finger on the stove remembers the fact, and this 

remembrance controls his actions in the future. 
The use of the whip is of value to the animal 
trainer as truly as are the rewards of praise. But 
the statement is not that we tend to forget cer- 
tain events that were unpleasant at the time, 
but rather that we tend to forget certain events 
that are unpleasant to remember. It may indeed 
yield a good deal of satisfaction and pleasure 
to recall certain events that were painful at the 
time. It is only to the extent that unpleasant 
events are unpleasant to remember that we tend 
to forget them. 

This tendency has been studied somewhat by 
the use of experiments but the observations have 
been most abundant where psychoanalysis has 
been used. With psychoanalysts such forgetting 
Is so common as hardly to be doubted. The 
great body of phenomena of conflict and repres- 
sion so widely observed in neurotic characters 
results In the forgetting of the unpleasant. We 
put the distasteful, the disagreeable out of our 
mind. We seek forgetfulness by will power, by 
seeking pleasure or diversion, and by various 
other devices. There are, of course, cases of 
morbidness and compulsive fears where one 
dwells on the unpleasant, but these have been 
explained on the basis of repression and by no 
means run counter to the tendency to forget the 

Many of the facts of life and of history are in 
harmony with the theories of the repression from 
consciousness of the unpleasant. For instance, 
it is generally agreed that childhood appears In 
retrospect happier than it really was. The home, 
its surroundings, playtime, food, all tend to be 
idealized in remembrance. College alumni re- 
member the good old days at college. The glor- 
ification of the past is seen In the phrase "the 
good old days." We love to remember the glor- 
ious events of war and not the errors. We re- 
member less and less the defects in our national 
heroes, recalling their noble qualities. George 
Washington is mythical and Lincoln is rapidly 
becoming so. All these illustrations have other 
psychological factors and are not to be explained 
solely by a tendency to forget the unpleasant. 
However, these and many other Instances do con- 
form to what psychoanalysis shows to be true in 
individual lives. If the past is glorified by such 
selective forgetting, it is to be expected that we 
would not want to change from these conditions 
of the past. And in so far as our wants and 
wills and purposes in regard to changing con- 
ditions operate and are effective, culture will be 
slow to change because of this purposeful am- 

It is interesting to inquire to what extent cul- 
tural conditions may modify this tendency to 

forget the unpleasant things ^nd to overesti- 
mate the good things of the past. Under the 
hand of the psychoanalyst the patient is made to 
recall these experiences that are unpleasant to 
remember and after working out a more whole- 
some attitude towards them, the past is no longer 
unpleasant to remember, the result supposedly 
being a wholesome one for the personality. A 
person may find it distinctly satisfying to recall 
some painful event, if by recalling it he can pre- 
vent a repetition in the future. In other words, 
when there is a way out, an appreciated knowl- 
edge gained by experience or a prospect of im- 
provement, the unpleasant events of the past 
are not so unpleasant to remember. And so it 
would seem that if there is a prospect of im- 
provement in social conditions, something to be 
gained by avoiding a repetition of these objec- 
tionable situations, the past may be less glorified 
and past conditions may be seen more nearly 
as they were. In a rapidly changing culture, 
individuals identify themselves with these 
changes, work with hope for improvement and 
the concept of '^better times'' may tend to re- 
place the notion of "the good old days." 




The element of fear Is another psychological 
factor In human beings that tends to cause them 
to resist changes. Fear may appear too strong 
a word; perhaps anxiety is more accurate, or the 
degree of fear found generally in uncertainty 
and In Ignorance. The fear In uncertainty may 
be the reason for the use of the phrase, "let well 
enough alone." There Is, for Instance, some such 
uncertainty In the minds of voters who reject 
the proposal to adopt "proportional representa- 
tion." Although the reasons given for not 
adopting the new may often be rationalized ex- 
pressions for some other reaction, still, the ele- 
ment of uncertainty is manifested noticeably with 
regard to many proposed changes. There is 
more human risk In social experimentation than 
In a scientific laboratory. The uncertainty may 
be particularly prominent because of the high 
degree of Interdependence and orderliness neces- 
sary In social organization. 

Since human beings are always active agents 
in all cultural change, these changes could be 

reviewed against the background of each and all 
human traits, If we could count and define them 
all, and each trait appraised In regard to its rela- 
tion to cultural change. But such a procedure 
would be more an exercise than of practical sig- 
nificance. So only some of the human traits more 
conspicuously affecting the stability of culture 
have been presented. * 

There are also psychological factors that tend 
to hasten cultural changes. Curiosity Is probably 
such a factor, and Is an element in inventiveness. 
The repression of desires may lead to a rest- 
lessness that furnishes a drive for change. Pain 
in many instances furnishes an impetus to change. 
We not only love regularity and orderliness and 
act according to habit, but we also love adventure, 
we love to travel, we have an ambition to im- 
prove. So there are unquestionably psychologi- 
cal bases of change as well as resistance to change. 
The inquiry of this chapter has been rather to In- 
quire into the nature of the more apparent resist- 
ances to cultural change. However, one might 
conceivably raise the question, a very general one 
indeed, as to whether human nature predomi- 
nantly resists change or Is essentially change-lov- 
ing. Presumably a brief general answer would 
be practically meaningless. In some situations 
human beings want to change and in others they 


do not. Running over a long list of psychologi- 
cal traits and examining which motives facilitated 
change and which impeded change and then total- 
ing the results would probably give, if it 
could be done, an uncertain picture due to the 
variety of changes and the variety of those 

It is also remembered that in any large sample 
of the population, there will be great variation 
in the psychological equipment of the different 
individuals. Some individuals are by original 
equipment or very early experiences more con- 
servative in the general situations of life while 
others are more radical. This will be true within 
virtually the same general environment. For in- 
stance, some individuals are to-day understand- 
ably radical for the reason that *'they have noth- 
ing to lose but their chains." There are occa- 
sionally others, however, who are very well 
blessed with the world's goods but yet are gen- 
erally radical. An explanation of such radical- 
ism may very well be largely psychological, as 
the following analysis indicates. The world is, 
with difficulty, bearable to such radicals not be- 
cause of any material situation, but because of 
an internal conflict of whose true nature they 
are more or less unconscious. Radicalism is 
often found with certain neurotic tendencies. 
The nervous instability which predisposes one to 

radicalism is probably found in a minority of 
modern population. So that In any large sample 
of population there will be both radicals and con- 
servatives, made so both by psychological equip- 
ment and by the cultural situation, the latter be- 
ing more variable over time. 


We have now examined some of the more con- 
spicuous aspects of the slowness of culture to 
change. And out of this analysis comes the hy- 
pothesis that culture once in existence persists 
because it has utility. Forces that produce 
changes are the oTscovery of new cultural ele- 
ments that have superior utility, in which case 
the old utilities tend to be replaced by the new. 
The slowness of culture to change lies in the diffi- 
culties of creating and adopting new ideas. 
These difficulties are quite numerous and usiially 
not appreciated by observers. An examination 
of some of the more frequently cited types of 
survival and cultural Inertia does not indicate 
any other new principle of cultural stability, such 
as a peculiar resisting quality In culture to change. 
The understanding of cultural inertia lies largely 
In appreciating the various difficulties of change. 
Some difficulties are predominantly cultural; and 
others are psychological. 


The strangeness of cultural survivals does not 
lie in any mystical principle of evolution. These 
survivals persist not as fossils but because they 
have utility and there are usually in such in- 
stances of survivals difficulties and utilities mak- 
ing understandable why there has not been a re- 
placement by new forms and new ideas. Cul- 
tural inertia is sometimes exaggerated due to 
faulty observation. There are certain instances 
of seemingly extraordinary inertia, where the 
same cultural form is used at one time for one 
purpose and later for a quite different purpose, 
that is, a cultural form has persisted so long that 
its meaning or value has quite radically changed. 
Such instances arise because a particular form has 
or may have a number of quite different utili- 
ties and apparently it is easier to use an old 
form than to acquire or invent a new one. Per- 
haps the most numerously observed cases of cul- 
tural inertia are due to difficulties of diffusion 
of culture. A comprehensive and far-reaching 
study would reveal a great variety of difficul- 
ties of a purely cultural sort, which might 
or might not be classified into a few gen- 
eral types, applicable to all cultural conditions. 
Detailed studies of the difficulties of diffusion 
make in particular instances the strangeness of 
cultural inertia appear less strange. Particularly 
in modern times can the processes of change be 

seen frequently and in great detail. In modern 
society, divided into classes, those classes deriv- 
ing differential benefits from existing conditions 
tend to resist any change that will lessen those 
benefits. Difficulties of changing the social con- 
ditions are also found to have a prominent psy- 
chological aspect as well as a cultural side. Some 
of the more conspicuous psychological resistances 
to change are seen in the phenomena of habit, 
the social pressure for conformity, and the pro- 
cess of forgetting the unpleasant which results in 
a distorted view and admiration of the past. Of 
the great number of human traits, some tend to 
make us conservative and some to make us radi- 
cal. We cannot take a census of these traits 
and classify them with regard to change. There- 
fore only a few have been discussed. 

The preceding analyses are not comprehensive 
tut are in the nature of an inquiry into some of 
the more frequently mentioned aspects of the 
slowness of culture to change. In this age of 
great change, those who are working for changes 
in the direction of progress are much concerned 
with the obstacles to change. It is hoped that 
the foregoing discussion throws some light on 
the subject. There remains, however, another 
very important nature of social change yet to be 
discussed. This will be done in Part IV. The 
thesis is there advanced that the source of 


most modern social changes to-day Is the material 
culture. These material-culture changes force 
changes In other parts of culture such as social 
organization and customs, but these latter parts 
of culture do not change as quickly. They lag 
behind the material-culture changes, hence we 
are living in a period of maladjustment. 



That this is an age of change is an expression 
frequently heard to-day. Never before in the 
history of mankind have so many and so frequent 
changes occurred. These changes, it should be 
observed, are in the cultural conditions. The 
climate is changing no more rapidly, and the 
geological processes affecting land and water dis- 
tribution and altitude are going on with their usual 
slowness. Nor apparently is the biological na- 
ture of man undergoing more rapid changes than 
formerly. We know that biological man changes 
through mutations which occur very rarely in- 
deed and we have no biological evidence to show 
and little reason to think that mutations in men- 
tal or physical man are occurring more frequently 
now than in the past. These changes that we 
see taking place all about us are in that great 
cultural accumulation which is man's social heri- 
tage. It has already been shown that these cul- 
tural changes were in early times rather infre- 
quent, but that in modern times they have been 
occurring faster and faster until to-day mankind 
is almost bewildered in his effort to keep adjusted 

to these ever-increasing social changes. This 
rapidity of social change may be due to the in- 
crease in inventions which in turn is made pos- 
sible by the accumulative nature of material cul- 
ture. These conclusions follow from the preced- 
ing analyses. 


This rapidity of change in modern times raises 
the very important question of social adjustment. 
Problems of social adjustment are of two sorts. 
One concerns the adaptation of man to culture 
or perhaps preferably the adapting of culture to 
man. This subject is considered in Part V. 
The other problem is the question of adjust- 
ments, occasioned as a result of these rapid so- 
cial changes, between the different parts of cul- 
ture, which no doubt means ultimately the adap- 
tation of culture to man. This second problem 
of adjustment between the different parts of cul- 
ture is the immediate subject of our inquiry. 
The thesis is that the various parts of modern 
culture are not changing at the same rate, some 
parts are changing much more rapidly than 
others; and that since there is a correlation and 

interdependence of parts, a rapid change in one 
part of our culture requires readjustments 
through other changes in the various correlated 
parts of culture. For instance, industry and ed- 
ucation are correlated, hence a change in industry 
makes adjustments necessary through changes in 
the educational system. Industry and education 
are two variables, and if the change in industry 
occurs first and the adjustment through education 
follows, industry may be referred to as the inde- 
pendent variable and education as the dependent 
variable. Where one part of culture changes 
first, through some discovery or invention, and 
occasions changes in some part of culture depend- 
ent upon it, there frequently is a delay in the 
changes occasioned in the dependent part of cul- 
ture. The extent of this lag will vary accord- 
ing to the nature of the cultural material, but 
may exist for a considerable number of years, 
during which time there may be said to be a mal- 
adjustment. It is desirable to reduce the period 
of maladjustment, to make the cultural adjust- 
ments as quickly as possible. 

The foregoing account sets forth a problem 
that occurs when there is a rapid change in a cul- 
ture of interdependent parts and when the rates 
of change in the parts are unequal. The discus- 
sion will be presented according to the following 
outlines. First the hypothesis will be presented, 

then examined and tested by a rather full consid- 
eration of the facts of a single instance, to be fol- 
lowed by several illustrations. Next the nature 
and cause of the phenomenon of cultural malad- 
justment in general will be analyzed. The ex- 
tent of such cultural lags will be estimated, and 
finally the significance for society will be set 

A first simple statement of the hypothesis we 
wish to investigate now follows. A large part 
of our environment consists of the material con- 
ditions oPIife and a large part of our social 
heritage is our material culture.. These material 
things consist of houses, factories, machines, raw 
materials, manufactured products, foodstuffs and 
other material objects. In using these material 
things we employ certain methods. Some of 
these methods are as simple as the technique of 
handling a tool. But a good many of the 
ways of using the material objects of culture in- 
volve rather larger usages and adjustments, such 
as customs, beliefs, philosophies, laws, govern- 
ments. K)ne important function of government, 
for instance. Is the adjustment of the population 
to the material conditions of life, although there 
are other governmental functions. Sumner has 
called many of these processes of adjustments, 
mores. The cultural adjustments to material 
conditions, however, include a larger body of 

processes than the mores; certainly they include 
the folk ways and social institutions. These 
ways of adjustment may be called, for purposes 
of this particular analysis, the adaptive culture. 
The adaptive culture is therefore that portion 
of the non-material culture which is adjusted or 
adapted to the material conditions. Some parts 
of the non-material culture are thoroughly adap- 
tive culture such as certain rules involved in 
handling technical appliances, and some parts are 
only indirectly or partially so, as for instance, 
religion. The family makes some adjustments 
to fit changed material conditions, while some of 
its functions remain constant. The family, 
therefore, under the terminology used here is a 
part of the non-material culture that is only 
partly adaptive. When the material conditions 
change, changes are occasioned in the adaptive 
culture. But these changes in the adaptive cul- 
ture do not synchronize exactly with the change 
in the material culture. There is a lag which 
may last for varying lengths of time, sometimes 
indeed, for many years. 

An illustration will serve to make the hypoth- 
esis more clearly understood. One class of 
material objects to which we adjust ourselves is 
the forests. The material conditions of forestry 
have changed a good deal in the United States 
during the past century. At one time th^ fprest§ 

were quite plentiful for the needs of the small 
population. There was plenty of wood easily ac- 
cessible for fuel, building and manufacture. The 
forests were sufficiently extensive to prevent in 
many large areas the washing of the soil, and 
the streams were clear. In fact, at one time the 
forests seemed to be too plentiful, from the point 
of view of the needs of the people. Food and 
agricultural products were at one time the first 
need of the people and the clearing of land of 
trees and stumps was a common undertaking of 
the community in the days of the early settlers. 
In some places, the quickest procedure was to kill 
and burn the trees and plant between the stumps. 
When the material conditions were like these, the 
method of adjustment to the forests was charac- 
terized by a policy which has been called exploi- 
tation. Exploitation in regard to the forests was 
indeed a part of the mores of the time, and de- 
scribes a part of the adaptive culture in relation 
to forests. 

As time went on, however, the population 
grew, manufacturing became highly developed, 
and the need for forests increased. But the for- 
ests were being destroyed. This was partic- 
ularly true in the Appalachian, Great Lakes and 
Gulf regions. The policy of exploitation contin- 
ued. Then rather suddenly it began to be real- 
ized in certain centres of thought that if the pol- 

Icy of cutting timber continued at the same rate 
and in the same manner the forests would in 
a short time be gone and very soon indeed they 
would be Inadequate to supply the needs of the 
population. It was realized that the custom in 
regard to using the forests must be changed and 
a policy of conservation was advocated. The 
new policy of conservation means not only a re- 
striction in the amount of cutting down of trees, 
but it means a more scientific method of cutting, 
and also reforestation. Forests may be cut in 
such a way, by selecting trees according to their 
size, age and location, as to yield a large quantity 
of timber and yet not diminish the forest area. 
Also by the proper distribution of cutting plots 
in a particular area, the cutting can be so timed 
that by the time the last plot Is cut the young 
trees on the plot first cut will be grown. Some 
areas when cut leave a land which is well adapted 
to farming, whereas such sections as mountain- 
ous regions when denuded of forests are poorly 
suited to agriculture. There of course are many 
other methods of conservation of forests. The 
science of forestry Is, Indeed, fairly highly devel- 
oped In principle, though not In practice In the 
United States. A new adaptive culture, one of 
conservation. Is therefore suited to the changed 
material conditions. 

That the conservation of forests In the United 

States should have been begun earlier Is quite; 
generally admitted. We may say, therefore, 
that the old policy of exploitation has hung 
over longer than it should before the institution 
of the new policy. In other words, the material 
conditions in regard to our forests have changed 
but the old customs of the use of forests which 
once fitted the material conditions very well have 
hung over into a period of changed conditions. 
These old customs are not only not satisfactorily 
adapted, but are really socially harmful. These 
customs of course have a utility, since they meet 
certain human needs ; but methods of greater util- 
ity are needed. There seems to be a lag in the 
mores in regard to forestry after the material 
conditions have changed. Or translated into the 
general terms of the previous analysis, the mate- 
rial conditions have changed first; and there has 
been a lag in the adaptive culture, that is, that 
culture which is adapted to forests. The ma- 
terial conditions changed before the adaptive cul- 
ture was changed to fit the new material condi- 


tions. This situation may be illustrated by the 
figure. Line i represents the material conditions, 
in regard to forests in the United States. Line 
2 represents the adaptive culture, the policy of 
using the forests. The continuous lines represent 
the plentiful forests, with the sparse population 
and the mores of exploitation, the dotted lines, 
the new conditions of forests which are small in 
relation to the population and the new policy of 
conservation. The space between a and h repre- 
sents the period when the old adaptive culture or 
mores exists with the changed material conditions, 
and is a period of maladjustment. 

It is difficult to locate exactly the points a and 
h. Consider first the location of point 6, or the 
time of the change from the policy of ex- 
ploitation to the policy of conservation. The pol- 
icy of conservation of forests certainly did not 
begin prior to 1904, when the first National Con- 
servation Congress met. It was during Roose- 
velt's administration that many active steps in 
the direction of conservation were taken. Large 
areas of national forest lands were withdrawn 
from public entry. Gilford Pinchot was very ac- 
tive in spreading the gospel of conservation, and 
the House of Governors called by President 
Roosevelt was in large measure concerned with 
programmes of conservation. About this time 

many books and articles in magazines and pe- 
riodicals were written on the subject. The con- 
servation movement can hardly be said to have 
started in any extensive manner before this time. 
It is true that, earlier, papers had been read on 
the subject before scientific societies and there had 
been some teaching of scientific forestry, but prior 
to this time the idea of forest conservation was 
little known and the movement was certainly not 
extensive. Nor had the government taken any 
significant steps in a genuine policy of conserva- 
tion. Indeed it might be argued with some suc- 
cess that we have not yet adopted fully a policy 
of conservation. For a great many of the pri- 
vate holdings are still exploited in very much the 
same old way. Reforestation is still largely a 
matter of theory in the United States. It is true 
that the government has taken a number of steps 
to preserve the forests but the conservationists 
are far from being satisfied with the progress of 
the movement to date. Certainly we have not 
attained the high mark maintained in western 

It is also difficult to locate point a, that is, to 
determine when we should have started the con- 
servation movement. Some features of conser- 
vation probably should have been instituted per- 
haps early in the last century. Thus the allot- 
ment of permanent forest areas might very well 


have been done coincidently with the extension 
of our domain; and the destruction of forests on 
land little suited to agriculture might have been 
prevented as the population spread to these new 
regions. At the time of the Civil War the popu- 
lation had become quite large, and shortly after- 
ward the era of railroad-building set in followed 
by a great development of industry, insuring large 
population and concentration. It was at this 
time that the wonderful forests of the Great 
Lakes region were cut down, and the cuttings in 
the Appalachian regions increased greatly. Some 
close observers saw at that time what develop- 
ment of population and industry would take place, 
but the relation of the forests to such a condition 
was not appreciated. If scientific forestry had 
been applied then, many of the unnecessarily 
wasted forests would still exist and now be fur- 
nishing lumber. There would not have been such 
a washing of soil and the danger of floods would 
have been less. While some methods of forest 
conservation might have been applied to advan- 
tage shortly after colonial days, the proper time 
for more extensive developments of conservation 
was probably in the era following the Civil War. 
The population was becoming large; the west was 
being settled; the Pacific coast had been reached; 
the territorial boundaries had been fixed; indus- 
tries, railroads, factories, corporations, trusts were 


all growing with rapidity. The east was in 
greater need of conservation of forests than the 
Pacific Northwest or Alaska; nevertheless very 
probably for the whole country, though its stages 
of development were unequal, an extensive con- 
servation movement should have been instituted 
about the middle of the last half of the nine- 
teenth century. It would seem, therefore, that 
there has been a lag of at least a quarter of a 
century 'in changing our forestry policy. 

The foregoing discussion of forestry illustrates 
the hypothesis which it is proposed to discuss. 
It is desirable to state more clearly and fully the 
points involved in the analysis. The first point 
concerns the degree of adjustment or correlation 
between the material conditions and the adaptive 
non-material culture. The degree of this adjust- 
ment may be only more or less perfect or satis- 
factory; but we do adjust ourselves to the mate- 
rial conditions through some form of culture ; that 
is, we live, we get along, through this adjust- 
ment. The particular culture which is adjusted 
to the material conditions may be very complex, 
and, indeed, quite a number of widely different 
parts of culture may be adjusted to a fairly ho- 
mogeneous material condition. Of a particular 
cultural form, such as the family or government, 
relationship to a particular material culture is 
only one of its purposes or functions. Not all 

functions of family organization, as, for instance, 
the affectional function, are primarily adaptive 
to material conditions. 

Another point to observe is that the changes in 
the material culture precede changes in the adap- 
tive culture. This statement is not in the form 
of a universal dictum. Conceivably, forms of 
adaptation might be worked out prior to a change 
in the material situation and the adaptation might 
be applied practically at the same time as the 
change in the material conditions. But such a 
situation presumes a very high degree of plan- 
ning, prediction and control. The collection of 
data, it is thought, will show that at the present 
time there are a very large number of cases 
where the mat erial c onditions change and the 
changes in the adaptive culture follow later. 
There are certain general theoretical reasons why 
this is so; but it is not desirable to discuss these 
until later. For the present, the analysis will 
only concern those cases where changes in the 
adaptive culture do not precede changes in the 
material culture. Furthermore, it is not implied 
that changes may not occur in non-material cul- 
ture while the material culture remains the same. 
Art or education, for instance, may undergo many 
changes with a constant material culture. 

Still another point in the analysis is that the 
old, unchanged, adaptive culture is not adjusted 


to the new, changed, material conditions. It may 
be true that the old adaptive culture is never 
wholly unadjusted to the new conditions. There 
may be some degree of adjustment. But the the- 
sis is that the unchanged adaptive culture was 
more harmoniously related to the old than to 
the new material conditions and that a new adap- 
tive culture will be better suited to the new ma- 
terial conditions than was the old adaptive cul- 
ture. Adjustment is therefore a relative term, 
and perhaps only in a few cases would there be 
a situation which might be called perfect adjust- 
ment or perfect lack of adjustment. 

It is desirable, however, not to make the anal- 
ysis too general until there has been a more care- 
ful consideration of particular instances. We 
now propose, therefore, to test the hypothe- 
sis by the facts in a definite case of social change. 
In attempting to verify the hypothesis in a par- 
ticular case by measurement, the following series 
of steps will be followed. The old material con- 
ditions will be described, that part of the adap- 
tive culture under consideration will be described, 
and the degree of adjustment between these two 
parts of culture shown. Then the changed ma- 
terial conditions and the changed adaptive culture 
will be defined and the degree of adaptation 
shown. It is necessary also to show that the un- 

changed adaptive culture is not as harmoniously 
adjusted to the new conditions as to the old and 
not as harmoniously adjusted to the new condi- 
tions as is a changed adaptive culture. Having 
made such a series of descriptions, the next step 
will be to measure the lag, which should be done 
by locating the point of change in the material cul- 
ture and the point of change in the particular 
adaptive culture. 


Sufficient data are available to test this hypoth- 
esis by a study of workmen's compensation as a 
means of dealing with industrial accidents. In 
studying the possible delay in developing work- 
men's compensation in the United States, the vari- 
ous steps outlined in the preceding paragraph will 
be followed but, for purposes of presentation, not 
in the exact order there listed. 

There are to-day a great many accidents oc- 
curring in industry. Hoffman estimated that in 
19 13 there were in the United States around 
25,000 fatal industrial accidents and 700,000 in- 
dustrial accidents causing disabilities lasting four 

weeks or longer.^ A recent estimate by Hook- 
stadt of United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 
places the fatal industrial accidents at 28,000 in 
19 1 7 and the disabilities, partial and total, last- 
ing four weeks and longer, around 875,000. He 
estimates that for this same year there were 
3,000,000 temporary total disabilities lasting less 
than four weeks. The year 19 17 was a year of 
unusual industrial activity, however. These ac- 
cidents are so numerous now, not solely because 
our population has grown large, but because so 
many workmen to-day work with or near ma- 
chines which are dangerous to life and limb. The 
accidents fall with severity upon the workmen 
and their families, for the annual earnings of 
workmen are low in comparison with the cost of 
an adequate standard of living and there is little 
saved for a crippled life or for a period of tem- 
porary disability. Furthermore, since these in- 
juries are due in large part to the nature of mod- 
ern industry, it is not just to make the workmen 
bear all the financial burden. It seems fair that 
industry itself should bear a part of it. If indus- 
try doesn't bear the burden, much of the cost 
eventually falls upon the State in the form of sup- 
port to the aged, cripples, widows and young 

1 Frederick G. Hoffman, "Industrial Accident Statistics," 
Bulletin, No. IS7, U. S. Department of Labor, p. 6. 


So the States of the United States have passed 
workmen's compensation laws which provide for 
payment to injured workmen according to the na- 
ture of the injury. These compensation laws 
make a fair adaptation to the industrial accident 
situation for the reasons just cited, particularly 
as the financial cost of these injuries falls In part 
upon industry rather than upon the workmen. It 
is therefore a better adjustment than when the 
cost is borne by the workman. It Is also a better 
adjustment than is provided for by the most ad- 
vanced employers' liability laws, for various rea- 
sons. Under these laws the workman to recover 
must sue the employer unless, as In some cases, 
settlement is made outside the courts. Resort to 
courts means always delay and frequently very 
long delays. The Illinois Employers' Liability 
Commission found In a survey that only fifty-three 
per cent of the injured receiving compensation 
were paid inside of two years. The Ohio Em- 
ployers' Liability Commission found an average 
delay of one year and one-half month. ^ The 
costs of the judicial and legal machinery are high 
and of amounts awarded in the verdicts rendered, 
a large part, from ten to fifty per cent, goes to 
defray legal expenses. Under workmen's com- 

2 Carl Hookstadt, "Comparison of Experiences under Work- 
men's Compensation and Employers' Liability Systems," 
Monthly Labor Revieiv^ Vol. VIII, March, 1919, No. 3, pp. 


pensation acts the remuneration is almost auto- 
matic. Workmen's compensation reaches the un- 
skilled workers better than the employers' liabil- 
ity laws, as the unskilled worker was less apt to 
use the courts than the skilled worker. Work- 
men's compensation funds provide, also, of course 
for a much larger number of workmen than the 
very few who were helped by fraternal or benev- 
olent insurance societies. 

Another piece of evidence of the suitability 
of workmen's compensation laws is the fact 
that they tend to reduce the number of accidents. 
Presumably, this is so for if the costs of 
accidents are made part of the immediate 
costs of production such costs tend to reduce 
profits. Accidents being expensive, the manage- 
ment of industry tries to reduce this source 
of expense. Certainly it is a fact that the 
"safety-first" movement in the United States 
started almost from the beginning of the work- 
men's compensation period. Accident prevention 
campaigns have been almost contemporaneous 
with the period of enforcement of workmen's 
compensation. It is not true that workmen's 
compensation laws are the sole causes of accident 
prevention. The loss of good workmen to indus- 
try through accidents, for instance, without any 
enforced compensation to the injured, neverthe- 
less makes it good business policy to limit the 


number of accidents. Although accident pre- 
vention work has been well under way in many 
industries for the past ten years, the record of 
accidents is not sufficiently complete for the whole 
country to say positively that there is a diminish- 
ing frequency of accidents. But certain special 
investigations indicate that this is a fact. For 
instance in a report published by the United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics ^ it is shown that for a 
group of iron and steel plants, about 25 per cent 
of the industry, both the frequency and severity 
accident rates fell from 1907 to 19 17 and have 
fallen continuously since 19 12. The frequency 
rate fell from 19 12 about 50 per cent and the 
severity rate about 25 per cent. 

The present workmen's compensation laws in 
the United States are not of course a case of per- 
fect adaption. These laws are not perfect. 
Many of them are optional to employers, and 
many of them do not provide State funds. The 
compensations for the various injuries are too 
low. There are many more details that could 
be improved, as, for instance, the medical ser- 
vice and the waiting period. A better classifica- 
tion of hazardous occupations could be made. 

Not all employees are reached by the laws as 

^Chaney and Hanna, "The Safety Movement in the Iron 
and Steel Industry, 1907 to 1917," Bulletin, No. 234, June, X918, 
p. 16. 


now drawn, In most cases perhaps not over 75 
per cent.* The list of industries in some cases 
might well be extended. Indeed, adequate com- 
pensation laws should probably cover all indus- 
tries and all employees, and it is probably desir- 
able to eliminate the so-called hazardous indus- 
tries from the terminology. Furthermore it is 
possible that even some better method than the 
present compensation laws may yet be found. 

Workmen's compensation laws are of course 
not the sole method of adjustment to the accident 
problem of modern industry; nor are employers' 
liabiHty laws. Factory inspection, machinery 
safeguards, rest periods, rates of speed of pro- 
duction, and perhaps prohibition of the sale of 
intoxicating beverages, are all adaptations to the 
accident situation. But in so far as workmen's 
compensation laws alone are considered as the 
adaptive culture, it is true that they are not a per- 
fect adaptation but are better than the adaptive 
measures that immediately preceded them. 

We have now described the new material con- 
ditions of industry making the accident situation 
and have described the method of adjustment to 
the situation as shown in workmen's compensa- 
tion laws. The degree of satisfactory adaptation 

* Carl Hookstadt, "Comparison of Experiences under Work- 
men's Compensation and Employers' Liability Systems," 
Monthly Labor Review, Vol. VIII, No. 3, pp. 846-864. 

between the material culture and the adaptive 
culture has been shown. 

In earlier times before the rise of modern In- 
dustry with complex machines driven by artificial 
power, the economic activities were largely agri- 
cultural. Such manufacturing as was done was 
done by hand. During this period of handicraft 
production only a very small per cent of the popu- 
lation lived in towns and cities. In these times 
the accidents of Industry were few. The tools 
of industry were simple and not particularly haz- 
ardous, either on the farms or in the towns. The 
relationship between master and servant was a per- 
sonal one, the contact being quite close. 

Since under such material conditions the acci- 
dents were few, individual liability seems not a 
bad adjustment to such accidents as did occur. 
The law regarding accidents was the law of negli- 
gence and was a branch of the common law. In 
a case arising under the law of negligence, at- 
tempt was made to find the individual who was at 
fault In the neglect of duty in causing the accident, 
and damages were assessed upon the guilty party. 
For Instance, If a vicious bull was loose and gored 
a man, damages In such a case might be recovered 
under the law of negligence. 

The adjustment to accidents In these early times 
was shown by the development of the common law 
of negligence. Suits for damages for injuries 

sustained because of the employer's negligence 
had occurred for many hundreds of years. But 
with the development of industry in the nine- 
teenth century, certain defenses, particularly that 
of "common employment'* and of "contributory 
negligence" were developed, which employers 
sought for protection against suits for damages. 
The first cases developing these defenses were, 
In the United States, In 1841, Murry v. South 
Carolina Railroad Co,, and in England Priestly v. 
Fowler, In 1837.^ 

One of these defenses Is called the "assump- 
tion of risk" and under this doctrine the master 
Is not liable to his servant for injuries occur- 
ring In the ordinary risks of the employment 
as the servant assumes these risks on enter- 
ing his employ. Another defense Is called 
"contributory negligence," and under this doctrine 
the master is not liable If the servant has by his 
own negligence contributed In any way to the oc- 
currence of the Injury. And finally the third de- 
fense is known as that of "common employment" 
or "the fellow-servant rule." Under this prin- 
ciple the employer was not liable If he could show 
that the accident was the result of negligence on 
the part of any fellow-servant of the Injured em- 

^Lindley D. Clark, "The Legal Liability of Employers for 
Injuries to their Employees in the United States," Bulletin, 
No, ^4, U, S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 

ployee. Therefore if the employer could show 
to the court that the employee^ assumed the risk 
on entering his employ, or that the accident oc- 
curred because of his own negligence or that 
of any fellow-servant, he would not be liable for 
the accident. This legal protection to the em- 
ployer was thus very formidable. 

The common law therefore proved inadequate 
to meet the situation caused by the accidents 
arising from the development of industry. 
There was truly a maladjustment because of 
the increasing accidents and the inadequacy 
of the law. But as more accidents occurred, 
the common law was later modified to a consid- 
erable extent by statutory enactments and by 
judicial interpretation, as will be pointed out 
in following paragraphs. The particular pur- 
pose here is to show that in earlier times before 
the increase of accidents due to ^he complexity 
of machine industry, there was no serious lack of 
adjustment between the accident situation and the 
common law. The adaptive culture was fairly 
well suited to the material conditions. This is 
seen from the descriptions just given of the com- 
mon law and the earlier economic conditions, when 
the tools were simple and the accidents were few. 
It is now necessary to measure the period of 
maladjustment between the adaptive culture and 
the material conditions, that period which may be 

temporarily described as the time when the in- 
dustrial accidents were numerous and there were 
no workmen's compensation laws. It will also 
be necessary to show that the adjustment during 
this period was less satisfactory than in the pre- 
ceding period and in the period which followed. 
It is not very difficult to locate the upper limit 
of this period. Prior to 19 lo there were no State 
workmen's compensation laws in force in the 
United States. The national government had 
passed a law applying to its own employees, how- 
ever, in 1908. Certain State benefit and com- 
pensation laws quite limited in scope and applica- 
tion had been passed earlier: Maryland in 1902, 
United States Philippine Commission in 1905 and 
Montana in 1909. The Maryland and the Mon- 
tana laws were declared unconstitutional, however, 
as was also the general workmen's compensation 
act of New York of 19 10. By the beginning of 
19 12, however, five State workmen's compensa- 
tion acts were in force; by 19 13 there were 13 
States with acts in force; by 19 14, 18 States; by 
1915, 22 States; by 1916, 29 States; by 1917, 32 
States; by 19 18, 35 States; by 19 19, 37 States; 
by 1920, 40 States; and by 1921 two more States 
had put into force workmen's compensation acts.® 

•Carl Hookstadt, "Comparison of Workmen's Compensation 
Laws of the United States and Canada up to January i, 1920," 
Bulletin, No. 275, U, S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Only SIX of the 48 States In January 1922 have no 
workmen's compensation acts In force, viz., Ar- 
kansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri,"^ North 
Carolina and South Carolina, States not very 
largely Industrial. Thus In less than a decade 
compensation laws had spread through nearly 
all of the States of the Union. Indeed, by the 
close of 19 1 5, within five years after the first 
State law was put In force, all of the highly In- 
dustrialized States except Pennsylvania and Dela- 
ware had these laws. It can be said, therefore, 
that within two or three years of 19 15 this par- 
ticular adaptive culture changed to fit the changed 
material conditions. Thus point h of the Illustra- 
tive figure Is located with some precision. 

To locate point a of the figure, the time at 
which the material conditions changed, is some- 
what more dlflUcult for the reason that the change 
in the material culture was more gradual than the 
change in the adaptive culture. At what time 
can it be said that industrial accidents became 
suflUciently numerous that workmen's compensa- 
tion laws should have been adopted? Unfor- 
tunately there are no statistics of the number of 
early industrial accidents. Since industrial ac- 
cidents are to a certain extent correlated with the 

7 Missouri adopted a law in 1919 but it was repealed by 
referendum vote. A new law has been passed in 1931 but it 
had not been put into force during 1921. 


growth of modern industry, some sort of estimate 
as to time can be made by observing the statistics 
of the growth of industry. Good criteria of the 
growth of industry are the production of iron 
and coal, the miles of railroads in operation and 
the percentage of the population that is urban. 
Such records are seen in the following table. 


tage of 

Pig iron 


In long 





the popu- 
living in 
places of 
8,000 per- 

IVfiles of 
in opera- 

in long 

omitted) 8 

tion 8 

omitted) 8 

omitted) 8 1 

sons and 

over 9 
























2,8 1 8 













































From this table the development of industry is 
seen to be gradual; there is no sharp break in the 
curve of industrial progress. However, in the 
two decades from 1850 to 1870, there was a very 

^Statistical Abstract of the United States, ipso, pp. 764, 801, 
802, 8ii. 
9 Reports of the Bureau of Census, Department of Commerce. 


appreciable beginning of Industrial development. 
In 1870, one-fifth of the population lived in cities 
and towns over 8,000 in population. A million 
and a half tons of pig iron and about 30 million 
tons of coal were produced. 

Another index of the development of industry 
and one that bears a closer relation to the esti- 
mation of the number of accidents, is the number 
employed in gainful industrial occupations. The 
census classification of occupations is for the fol- 
lowing groups: agriculture, manufacturing and 
mechanical pursuits (including mining), trans- 
portation and trade, professional service, domes- 
tic and personal service, and clerical occupations. 
Of these classes, those engaged in manufacturing 
and mechanical pursuits, transportation and trade, 
roughly correspond to those workers to whom 
workmen's compensation funds are potentially 
applicable. Perhaps some of those engaged in 
trade are not peculiarly liable to accidents and 
are not covered by compensation acts, but such a 
number probably roughly balances with others 
omitted when only these classes are counted. 
There are census figures showing the number en- 
gaged In these classes of Industrial occupations 
as far back as 1870. Thus In 19 10 the number 
of males 10 years old and over, engaged In manu- 
facturing and mechanical pursuits and In trans- 
portation and trade, was 15^^ million; In 1900, 

lo million; in 1890, 7% million; in 1880 about 
5 million; and in 1870, y/2 million. In i860 and 
in 1850 there were no doubt smaller numbers. 
The census classifications prior to 1870 are not 
comparable with those in later decades. The 
records, however, show that in i860 there were 
iH million employees in manufacturing industries 
and in 1850 very nearly a million. The figures 
since i860 quoted above are for males only, as 
estimates for accidents can be made somewhat bet- 
ter for males than for females; and since the 
number of accidents among females in industrial 
pursuits is relatively small, perhaps no great 
error is involved in using only the figures for 

There were in 1870, then, 3J/2 million males 
engaged in these industrial occupations in the 
United States. If the accident rate per thousand 
engaged in these industrial pursuits was known, 
this rate could be applied to the 3^ million so 
employed and some sort of estimate of the num- 
ber of accidents could be made. It is possible to 
find such an accident rate for the present time, 
but it is not known that there was the same ac- 
cident rate in 1870 that there is now. Still such 
an approximation would give information better 
than none at all. Hoffman estimated a rate of 
fatal accidents in 19 13 for all industrially occu- 

pied males of 0.73 per thousand occupied.^® But 
in getting this rate, those employed in agriculture, 
the army, the navy, and a group of "all other oc- 
cupied males" were included. If these groups 
are excluded from the calculations and a new rate 
is computed it will correspond somewhat more 
closely to the workers who would be affected by 
workmen's compensation and to those males en- 
gaged in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits 
and in trade and transportation. A new rate 
calculated after such exclusions are made is found 
to be approximately i.o per thousand employed. 
If this same rate of fatal accidents held in 1870, 
there were 3500 fatal accidents in that year. 
Hookstadt's figures for 19 17 show that disabili- 
ties lasting four weeks or longer are 30 times 
as numerous as the fatal accidents and the disa- 
bilities lasting less than four weeks are 100 times 
as numerous as the fatal accidents. These rela- 
tive proportions approximate closely those found 
in standard accident tables. 

If these ratios held in 1870, then there were 
about 100,000 accidents causing disabilities last- 
ing four weeks or longer, 350,000 accidents 
causing disabilities lasting less than four weeks. 
It would seem therefore that the year 1870 

10 Frederick G. HoflFman, "Industrial Accident Statistics," 
Bulletin, No. 157, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 

was hardly too soon to have developed work- 
men's compensation acts, even if the accident 
rates were a good deal lower than the esti- 
mates for 19 13. Even if they were half as 
low, there were in 1870 a fairly large number 
of accidents. Had workmen's compensation acts 
been in force in the United States from 1870 on, 
a very great many accidents would have been 
cared for with much less burden to the worker. 
If the accident rates for the intervening years be- 
tween 1870 and 19 10 were the same as those 
quoted above, then during this forty-year period 
there were 300,000 fatal accidents among males 
engaged in industrial occupations, 9,000,000 dis- 
abilities lasting four weeks or longer and 30,000,- 
000 disabilities lasting less than four weeks. The 
total number of industrial accidents over this pe- 
riod must have been very large, even If the acci- 
dent rate In the earlier years was lower than pres- 
ent-day rates. The earlier accident rates may 
indeed have been higher. 

Of the vast number of accidents, some few re- 
covered damages through the courts no doubt. 
A very few may have carried insurance. Rela- 
tives living in rural districts may have helped 
some to bear this burden; and for a very large 
number probably the varied economic opportu- 
nities of an expanding country helped to lighten 
the burden. If workmen's compensation acts had 

been in force from 1870 on, many accidents that 
did occur would never have occurred, for acci- 
dent prevention campaigns would probably have 
started earlier. From a table published by the 
Prudential Insurance Company, the fatal acci- 
dents per million of population in the years 1906- 
19 10 were greater for the United States than 
for any other of twenty-three countries for which 
there were data, and was very nearly twice the 
number recorded in Germany and in England and 
Wales. The United States was the last of the 
larger western nations to adopt workmen's com- 
pensation laws. In the '8o's acts were enacted 
in Germany and in Austria; in the '90's in Nor- 
way, Finland, Great Britain, Denmark, Italy, and 
France; and from 1900 to 19 10 in New Zealand, 
South Australia, Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, 
Western Australia, Luxemburg, British Colum- 
bia, Russia, Belgium, Cape of Good Hope, 
Queensland, Hungary, Transvaal, Newfoundland, 
Alberta, Bulgaria and Quebec; and since 19 10 
compensation acts have been enacted in a number 
of other countries. ^^ The fact that the United 
States was one of the very last nations to enact 
compensation laws certainly does not alone ex- 
plain why her accident rate is so markedly un- 

^^Lindky D. Clark, "Workmen's Compensation Laws of the 
United States and Foreign Countries," U. S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics Bulletins, Nos. 203 and 24.3, p. 298, and p. 96, respec- 


favorable in comparison with other countries; 
but it is very probably an important factor. It 
seems probable that if compensation laws had 
been enacted here, say, in 1870, or earlier, prob- 
ably a large number of accidents that did occur 
would never have occurred. 

The year 1870 Is the earliest date for which 
the census gives occupation statistics that are 
comparable with occupation figures for late years. 
It is possible indeed that earlier than 1870 indus- 
trial accidents may have been sufficiently numer- 
ous to warrant compensation laws. But prior to 
1870, industry was not very far developed as 
seen from the statistics in the previous table. 
The fact that the first suit in which the employer 
sought protection under the defense of "common 
employment'* occurred in 1841, suggests that 
prior to 1840 there was not much pressure for 
compensation. In 1840 there were not 3000 
miles of railroads in operation and not 2 million 
tons of coal were produced. Industry when 
young is said to need protection but financially 
there is little reason to think that the industry 
or the public could not have borne the buraen 
imposed by compensating for accidents from the 
very beginning in this country; certainly industry 
could have borne the burden as well as the work- 
men. It would appear, therefore, that the mate- 
rial conditions changed so that workmen's com- 

pensation systems were needed at least between 
the years 1850 and 1870. The material condi- 
tions changed therefore in the period 1850-70, 
while the adaptive culture did not change for a 
satisfactory adjustment until about 19 15. 

Since during this Interval from the period 
1850-70, until 19 15, there were changes in the 
adaptive culture as well as In the material culture, 
it remains to show that, during this period, there 
was maladjustment, namely, a less satisfactory 
adjustment than in the years which preceded and 
in the years which followed. This has already 
been partly done In describing the degree of adap- 
tation during the earlier and late periods. 
When industrial accidents began to occur with 
some frequency, the injured person at times en- 
tered suit against the employer under the 
common law of negligence. But the employer 
became extraordinarily well protected because 
of the development of the defenses of *'assump- 
tion of risk,'' "contributory negligence," and 
the "fellow-servant rule." It was realized 
that under these doctrines It was very difficult for 
the injured employee to get justice. So these de- 
fenses were modified or abrogated by statutory 
enactments and by judicial interpretation. Now, 
if these old defenses had been completely abro- 
gated, it might be argued that a fairly satisfac- 
tory adjustment would have been made to the ac- 

cident situation, without workmen's compensation 
laws, and solely through improved or changed 
employers' liability laws. It is therefore of im- 
portance in the analysis to ascertain to what 
extent these old employers' liability laws were 
modified by statutory enactments. 

The first statutory modification of the com- 
mon law of employers' liability was made in Ala- 
bama in 1885,^2 following closely the British 
model of 1880. This act was not an abrogation 
of these old defenses of the employers, but was 
only a modification of the defense, the fellow- 
servant rule, and enabled the representatives of 
the deceased employee to recover damages for 
death caused by negligence. Although this Brit- 
ish act made only a partial change for the better 
in the common law, acts following this model 
have been adopted in only seven States of the 
United States. These enactments were made at 
the following dates, 1885, 1887, 1893, 1893, 
1902, 1902 and 1907. Twenty States have 
either abrogated or modified the fellow-servant 
rule for railroads; in a majority of these States 
it has been abrogated. Nearly all of these acts 
applying to railroads were passed after 1900. 
Three States have special laws for mines. A 

i2Lindley D. Clark, "The Legal Liability of Employers for 
Injuries to their Employees in the United States," Bulletin, No, 
74, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

few States, notably Oregon and Ohio, have made 
extensive and significant changes by statutes in 
the common law of employers' liability. How- 
ever, seven States have made no change whatso- 
ever. It is thus seen that the common law which 
was hanging over Into a period of changed ma- 
terial culture, to which it was not fitted, was un- 
dergoing change by the State legislatures. But 
in only a few States were sweeping changes made 
in the common law that applied to Industry in 
general. The significant changes In the common 
law came in for the most part around the begin- 
ning and early part of the twentieth century. 

As to the extent that the common law defenses 
were modified by judicial interpretation, it is dif- 
ficult to determine quantitatively. But there are 
some ways of estimating the effectiveness of the 
modification of the changes In the common law of 
employers' liability both by statute and judicial 
Interpretation. Figures which show the propor- 
tions of the total number injured who received 
compensation under modified employers' liability 
laws would be such an indication. Samples of 
statistics taken in New York and in Pennsylvania 
show that of married men killed in industry the 
families from one-quarter to one-third received 
no compensation at all. ^^ Similar proportions 

13 Crystal Eastman, fFork Accidents and the Lavi, pp. i2x 
and 271. 


are quoted for Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Bu- 
reau of Labor and Industrial Statistics. ^* In a 
study made of accidents by the Labor Depart- 
ment of New York, out of 902 accidents investi- 
gated, 44 per cent received no compensation at 
all, not even medical expenses. ^^ More compre- 
hensive statistics are found in the records of the 
insurance companies, doing employers' liability in- 
surance. In New York, such companies reported 
a payment to one case out of every eight re- 
porting injuries, during the first decade of the 
twentieth century after New York had passed an 
employers' liability law. These statistics, which 
were collected just prior to the passage of work- 
men's compensation acts, are not truly represent- 
ative, because many accidents were no doubt 
never recorded and for this the injured were 
probably not compensated. It is questionable 
whether at that time, in States other than Pennsyl- 
vania, New York, and Wisconsin as large a pro- 
portion of injured received settlement. 

The awards under the employers' liability laws 
were often very inadequate. In a study of 902 
cases of temporary disability in New York, 397 
injured employees received no compensation 
whatever, and 304 cases recovered from the em- 
ployers less than 50 per cent of the money loss 

14 Vol. XIII, p. 54. 

15 Crystal Eastman, Work Accidents and the Laiv, p. 274, 


of wages and expenses. ^^ Miss Eastman In her 
study of employers' liability In New York con- 
cludes that only a small proportion of injured 
workmen get substantial damages under the em- 
ployers' liability law. The foregoing figures in- 
dicate that in those States where the common law 
of employers' liability was considerably modified, 
the accident situation was far from being satis- 
factorily met by employers' liability law both In 
the amount recovered and in the number of In- 
juries reached. Material assembled by Hook- 
stadt proves quite definitely this conclusion. ^'^ 
Such results might have been surmised from the 
fact that the States swung so rapidly from em- 
ployers' liability to workmen's compensation 
laws. But even if a very large number of In- 
jured employees had been reached by the opera- 
tion of employers' liability laws and even if the 
awards had been large, this system would have 
been less satisfactory than that of workmen's 
compensation, because of the delays of the court 
and legal expense, and of the antagonisms occa- 

It is therefore quite clear that between the 
time when the number of industrial accidents be- 
came significantly large due to the growth of ma- 

1® Crystal Eastman, fTork Accidents and the Laiu, p. 274. 

17 Carl Hookstadt, "Comparison of Experience under W^ork- 
men's Compensation and Employers' Liability Systems," 
Monthly Labor Revieiv, Vol. VIII, No. 3, pp. 846 — 864, 


chine industry and the time of the adoption of 
workmen's compensation, there was a very unsat- 
isfactory adjustment to the accident situation. 
During the period of maladjustment, the old 
adaptive culture, the common law of employers' 
liability, hung over after the material conditions 
had changed. But this common law was not 
wholly unchanging. It was being modified some 
as time went on, but never sufficiently to meet the 
new conditions even approximately. In conclu- 
sion, therefore, of the investigation of this partic- 
ular test of our hypothesis, the delay in the adop- 
tion of workmen's compensation or the lag in 
common law of employers' liability after the ma- 
terial culture had changed was about a half- 
century, from 1850-70 to 19 1 5. The investiga- 
tion might have included other arguments and 
more data. Such additional data would have 
made the treatment too long for general con- 
sideration, and without such additional investi- 
gation, it is thought that the hypothesis Is suffi- 
ciently substantiated. The lag might have been 
measured somewhat more precisely for a single 
State than for the United States as a whole. 



An attempt to prove the hypothesis with data 
from other cases of supposed maladjustment 
would involve in each case a somewhat lengthy 
presentation which would interest only the reader 
who is especially concerned with the particular 
maladjustment. A number of cases of what seem 
to be lags in the adaptive culture, however, may 
be listed quickly, without an attempt at proof. In 
all these cases, however, it is thought that a lag 
could be measured and a maladjustment proven 
if the necessary research were undertaken. 

The general property tax. One such case of 
lag, is the general property tax in the United 
States. Since the formation of the various States 
of the union, State revenues have been raised 
largely by assessing the amount of general pro- 
perty and levying a tax on the assessed value of 
the general property, at a rate established at 
such a point as will yield the necessary revenue 
^o meet estimated State expenditures for the en- 

suing year. Although such a system of taxation 
has been praised highly in the past, it is now quite 
generally admitted by taxation authorities to be 
unsatisfactory, for several reasons. Perhaps the 
most important reason is the fact that personal 
property now tends to escape taxation under the 
general property tax. According to the theory 
of the general property tax, it is a just tax be- 
cause all property is taxed. But in practice only 
realty, i. e., land and the fixtures thereto, is 
reached. Personal property, particularly the in- 
tangible personalty, such as stocks, bonds and the 
various other securities largely escape taxation. 
This is definitely shown by Seligman in his Es^ 
says on Taxation, from which the following facts 
and quotations are taken. 

The proportion paid [in New York State] by personal 
property has decreased steadily almost every year until 
according to the last figures [191 1] it pays but five per 
cent of the State taxation, as against ninety-five falling on 
real estate. In forty years the valuation of real estate 
has increased eight billions while that of personalty has 
increased only thirty millions. ... In California, per- 
sonal property was assessed in 1872 at 220 millions of 
dollars, in 1880 at 174 millions and in 1887 at 164 mil- 
lions — a net decrease in fifteen years of 56 millions. 
Real estate increased during the same period from 417 to 
791 millions. Personal property paid 17.31 per cent, real 


estate 82.69 per cent of the taxes. ... In Cincinnati 
the valuation in 1866 was: realty, $66,454,602; per- 
sonalty, $67,218,101. In 1892 the realty had increased 
to $144,208,810; the personalty had decreased to $44,- 
735)670. . . . These figures become ridiculous when 
it is remembered that in our modern civilization the value 
of personal property far exceeds that of real estate, as 
understood by the taxing power. 

Under the general property tax, personal pro- 
perty thus tends to escape taxation. This condi- 
tion was, however, not always so. Under early 
agricultural conditions, when the amount of per- 
sonal property was small and easily visible to the 
tax assessor, personalty was taxed in fair propor- 
tion to realty. But with the growth of industry, 
corporations and modern finance, it has not been 
possible to reach all personalty for taxation. 
Personalty has also grown in the western States 
which are still agricultural and the "auditor of 
Washington tells us that, if a true valuation 
could be reached, it is 'clear and incontestable 
that the wealth of the territory in personal pro- 
perty, for the purposes of taxation would largely 
predominate over that of real estate.' " Yet 
practically none of our States has discarded the 
general property tax, although a few have rem- 
edied the situation somewhat by a more or less 
satisfactory development of special corporation 


taxes, inheritance taxes and income taxes. S*;llg- 
man, writing in 19 19, says: 

It [the general property tax] is the cause of such cry- 
ing injustice that its alteration or its abolition must be- 
come the battle-cry of every statesman and reformer. 

The analysis of the general property tax seems 
to show that when the material culture was in 
its economic aspects simple agriculture, this tax 
was suitable to those conditions; but with the 
changing of the material culture from simple ag- 
riculture to modern industry, the general property 
tax was a maladjustment for the reason that per- 
sonal property escaped taxation. It is necessary, 
therefore, to abandon the general property tax or 
to alter it in order to reach property that es- 
capes taxation under the general property tax. 
This can be done through the separation of State 
and local revenues, by the development of cor- 
poration taxes, inheritance taxes, income taxes, 
and various special taxes. But as yet only a very 
few States have done this. The lag in this 
adaptive culture has certainly been a number of 

The family. Another case that seems to show 
a good many lags in the adaptive culture is the 
delay in adjustment of the family to modern 
machine industry. Under earlier agricultural 
conditions, the family, it is generally admitted, 

had worked out a fairly satisfactory adjustment 
to these conditions. The family was an economic 
institution as well as an affectional and biological 
one. In fact, under agricultural conditions, it 
was a most significant unit in society possessing 
in addition to biological and economic functions, 
many other functions such as recreational, edu- 
cational, protective and religious. Woman's 
economic function was most important, and a 
woman of ability was of great economic value to 
the farm. Marriage was, in part, the taking of 
a business partner, and early marriage was of 
economic advantage because it was entering busi- 
ness early. The wife's duties, spinning, weaving, 
sewing, preparing foods, the manufacture of dif- 
ferent articles, and various other tasks around 
the farm, were quite comparable, in economic re- 
turn, with the husband's work. The education 
that was necessary for life and business success 
was acquired in large part in the home, with the 
exception of such elementary book education as 
the three r's. It was an excellent institution for 
supervising the activities of children because the 
child's future life as an adult was to be spent on 
the farm. Divorce was a particularly serious event 
because it meant a rupture to so many economic 
and social activities. The agricultural family 
was also In a fortunate position to render protec- 
tion to the dependent kin. The functioning of 


the family under these conditions indicates an 
excellent adjustment between the family as a so- 
cial organization and the material culture, though 
no doubt there were tyrannies, repressions of in- 
stincts and resistances to new ideas. 

The immediate effect of the growth of large- 
scale production meant taking from the home an 
increasing number of economic functions and 
placing them in factories. This was particularly 
true of the work which was formerly woman's 
share. The services performed by the family liv- 
ing in a modern city apartment illustrate what a 
great change has taken place in the functions of the 
family. Such profound changes in the economic 
functions of the family and the creation of new 
forms of economic activity meant that new adjust- 
ments would have to be made by the family, since 
it was hardly possible to stop or change signi- 
ficantly the march of material progress. 

The educational function, for instance, can 
not now be performed as satisfactorily by the fam- 
ily as was once possible. The diversification and 
the specialized technique of industry and the 
transfer of occupations from the home to the fac- 
tory have meant the necessity of special voca- 
tional and trade education outside the home. 
Manual training which was formerly quite readily 
learned at home must now be taught in city 
schools. The technical efficiency demanded by 

modern Industrial life has necessitated changes in 
the curricula of the schools. These are all 
special adjustments of education to the changed 
material conditions. The juvenile court has 
arisen as an adjustment agency to the changed 
material conditions through the failure of the 
family to make the proper adaptation. With the 
Industrial revolution came the great growth of 
cities, little adapted to child life. The congestion 
of cities was accompanied almost nowhere with 
adequate development of play space for children. 
Coupled with these conditions was the breaking 
up of homes and the drawing of mothers Into in- 

The factory immediately brought children to 
work within its walls, with unsatisfactory results, 
and a better adjustment was made through child 
labor laws and compulsory school laws, with In- 
spectors and attendance officers. Such special 
laws were unnecessary under the old material con- 
ditions. Special forms of State insurance and 
various types of pensions seem a desirable form 
of adjustment to the new conditions which face 
the family. The agricultural family with a rela- 
tively more stable abode was very well suited 
for caring for widows, the aged, and dependent 
kin. There were rooms and food, and light 
tasks to be done. But with the scattered and 
more migratory family living in congested cen- 

tres, such care of dependents can be effected in 
fewer families and with more difficulty. Women 
have not become satisfactorily adjusted to these 
new material conditions of the factory system. 
Their work as producers has largely been taken 
away, so that many are idle, or do work which 
is only slightly productive of substantial economic 
values; or else they go into industry under such 
chance conditions as they may find. The intro- 
duction of women into industry may call for spe- 
cial adaptations in regard to such matters as sani- 
tary conditions, hours of labor, and maternity in- 
surance. A somewhat wider life for woman 
outside the home seems desirable, since so many 
of the home occupations are now found outside 
the family. The extension of the franchise to 
women is only a minor step in that direction. 
Finally, the reduction of the economic function 
of the family together with other functions has 
rendered the marriage union of man and woman 
less stable. 

It is thus seen that the change from agriculture 
to the modern factory system has necessitated 
changes in the family organization. There is 
abundant evidence to show that the old agricul- 
tural family organization is no longer adapted to 
industrial life as seen in modern cities. Many 
functions which were performed reasonably sat- 
isfactorily by the family in farm life have been 

or are being taken over by the State, by industry, 
by special organizations. Special organizations 
have been developed to perform functions affect- 
ing women, children, education, dependency, rec- 
reation, etc. In these cases, it is no doubt diffi- 
cult to measure the delay in each case in develop- 
ing the new forms for performing these func- 
tions. But it seems quite clear that there has 
been a delay. Few would maintain that child la- 
bor laws, compulsory education, vocational and 
industrial education, playgrounds, and social in- 
surance, for instance, have been developed as 
promptly as they should. The material culture 
has gone forward, while the adaptive culture has 
lagged behind. 

International relations. Many writers have 
argued that changes in international relations 
have not kept pace with the industrial changes 
affecting the United States. The theory, which, 
however, is not wholly accepted, runs somewhat 
as follows. In early times the United States was 
more or less physically isolated from many of the 
other nations, particularly the nations of Europe. 
Problems of international relationships were not 
in general pressing with the United States, except 
on certain critical issues. The policy of no en- 
tangling alliances, though a somewhat brief and 
inaccurate descriptive phrase, indicated a fairly 
satisfactory form of relationship, it would seem. 


A high organizational development of activity 
and efficiency was not particularly urgent in the 
State Department of our government, nor espe- 
cially in the consular and diplomatic service. In 
time material changes occurred which have, in 
part, destroyed this isolation. With the steam 
engine, boats now cross the Atlantic Ocean in 
a few days, whereas formerly the period of cross- 
ing was measured in weeks. Cables have been 
laid and the wireless telegraph developed. 
Newspapers carry immediately records of events 
in other countries. Most important is the growth 
of foreign trade as measured by the volume of 
Imports and exports. Foreign investments are 
growing, as is also foreign travel. The natural 
resources of the world are being appropriated in 
one way or another. Because of these material 
changes other nations are brought closer as 
neighbors and their activities are of increasing 
concern to the United States. The changed mate- 
rial conditions are apparent, while, it is claimed, 
our International policies and organizations of 
foreign relations have not been developed suffi- 
ciently to meet these changed conditions satis- 
factorily. This Is a debatable point; but there Is 
some evidence to Indicate that the efficiency of 
the diplomatic and consular service and of the 
State Department has not In the past been ade- 
quate to meet properly the problems arising from 


the changed material conditions. Until the re- 
cent great war the mass of the population of 
the United States was ignorant of and indifferent 
to foreign relations. And even after the war 
there is a strong feeling that we should concern 
ourselves less with foreign relations. Aside from 
the merits of a particular League of Nations, 
there is much indifference to such a project 
even though it has been introduced under excep- 
tionally dramatic conditions. There is certainly 
some evidence that the older mores hang over 
into the new conditions, and that a proper adap- 
tive culture has not been developed. 

Trade unions. The theory of industrial 
unions for wage-earners is another illustration. 
Employees in modern industry have found it to 
their advantage, it is usually admitted, to organ- 
ize into labor unions. Hitherto these organiza- 
tions have been, with few exceptions, along trade 
or craft lines. The organization of workers in 
a trade has meant greater bargaining strength 
than the individual laborer has, and the workers 
have used such collective bargaining power to their 
advantage In matters of hours of labor, wages 
and working conditions. There are of course 
some who are opposed to any labor organiza- 
tions In the Interests of Industry or of society. 
But granting the general point of view in favor 
of labor organization, it seems questionable 

whether organization along craft lines is the type 
of organization which gives the desired strength 
to compete with the recently developed powerful 
organizations on the side of capital. Very large 
corporations and trusts began to grow up in the 
last quarter of the nineteenth century. The in- 
fluence of financial organizations became quite 
powerful. This consolidation developed through 
various interlocking devices between the different 
corporations and other industrial and financial or- 
ganizations. The strength of capital became 
very great through these powerful organizations 
which have grown greatly during the past quar- 
ter- or half-century. The strength of craft unions 
seems less, relative to the power of capital, 
now than at the time when capital was less 
highly organized. It would seem that the 
strength of labor would be greater and more able 
to cope with these large industrial organizations 
if labor were organized along industrial lines 
rather than trade lines. From this labor point 
of view, therefore, the trade unions are not as 
satisfactorily adapted to the large industrial com- 
binations as would be industrial unions. It is 
true that the affiliations of unions in city. State 
and national organizations have remedied some- 
what such deficiencies. But it seems probable that 
labor unions would have become more powerful 
if the organization had developed a number of 

years ago direcdy along industrial lines. In this 
illustration the adaptive culture considered is the 
organizations of labor, and the culture to which 
adjustment is being made is, in part, the develop- 
ment of industry. 

Representative legislative government. It is 
also argued that the present forms of repre- 
sentative legislative assemblies are not as satis- 
factorily adjusted to modern social conditions 
as they were in earlier times. Representation in 
the United States is now on the basis of localities. 
The principle of locality-representation was highly 
important before the development of rapid trans- 
portation. Localities that are relatively Isolated 
have local differences and interests peculiar to the 
local group. Hence the Interests of a people liv- 
ing in various localities relatively Isolated need 
to be presented by representatives chosen on the 
basis of locality. The railroad, the postal serv- 
ice, telephone, telegraph, newspapers, travel, 
trade and the spread of business development 
have all tended to reduce the barriers that ac- 
centuated locality interests. Mere physical dis- 
tance, of course, still Is a barrier. The wards of 
a city have not so many distinct local interests 
as for instance do the various States of so large 
an area as the United States. Localities within 
States are midway between these two extremes. 
Locality-representation in so large a country as 

the United States was even more Important in early 
times than other forms of representation because 
wealth was fairly equally distributed and there was 
a good deal of homogeneity in occupations. In 
modern society the Interests of the people are dif- 
ferentiated on the basis of economic classes and of 
occupations as well as on the basis of locality. 
There are of course many of these classes. And 
It would seem that a sampling for purposes of 
representation should take Into consideration such 
a differentiation of Interests. Theoretically it is 
possible for random sampling by locality to yield 
representation of classes; but practically the re- 
presentation of special Interests Is not propor- 
tional In the United States. Proportional repre- 
sentation Is a device to meet this situation. It 
is difficult to say whether It is a satisfactory de- 
vice as it has not been adequately tested In mod- 
ern legislative assemblies. Other changes In the 
nature of representation have also been sug- 

It Is true that In the United States at the 
present time legislative bodies are not the most 
highly admired of the governmental organs, par- 
ticularly in our States and cities. This Is cer- 
tainly not due wholly to the principle of locality- 
representation. One reason, for instance, for the 
rise of the executive In comparison to the legis- 
lature and of his power over legislation is prob- 

ably the fact that, upon the executive attention 
Is more readily focused and responsibility more 
easily fixed than on a large group of representa- 
tives, In this age when there are so many de- 
mands on a voter's time. Furthermore, the 
newspaper has to a certain extent usurped some of 
the functions of legislative representatives. The 
executive can frequently determine the various 
opinions from newspapers as well as from elected 
representatives. Important government policies 
are announced at times in notices to the press or 
in speeches delivered elsewhere than in legislative 
halls. There are, of course, many other criticisms 
of our legislatures. The functioning of modern 
legislatures has been frequently criticised by stu- 
dents of political science, and the causes traced to 
various special factors. Although there may be 
particular causes, a fundamental trouble may 
be due to the great changes that have occurred 
in the material conditions of life. It is argued 
that representation by localities was adjusted in 
a fairly satisfactory manner to the pioneer condi- 
tions of the first part of the last century; but 
since that time our material culture has greatly 
changed while the nature of our representation 
and the organization of the assemblies have re- 
mained substantially the same. Just what 
changes in the representative assemblies should 
be made, we do not know. The material culture 


has changed, and there Is evidence that the adap- 
tive culture Is not adjusted satisfactorily. Poli- 
tical scientists do not appear to be certain just 
what changes in the adaptive culture should be 
made. The conditions of modern legislation do 
suggest the need of change, however, and further 
research might substantiate the hypothesis, men- 
tioned here all too briefly. 

Pueblo dwellers. Another possible illustration 
from a different culture may be observed among 
the Hopi Indians of Arizona. These Indians 
are pueblo dwellers and live on the tip end of three 
long mesas — flat table-lands that run down into 
the desert from the north like three great fingers. 
The inducements to live at the mesas are the per- 
manent springs of water found at the foot of these 
mesas. The few springs and streams that are 
found elsewhere in this semi-desert region are not 
permanent; the region shows the beds of many 
streams now dry. It Is not clear why the HopI 
live on top of the mesas rather than at the foot, 
but there is some reason to think that such a 
location provides good defenses in time of war- 
fare. It appears to be a sort of natural 
fortress, rather difficult to attack and a good place 
to store the limited and precious supplies of 
grain. It Is known that In earlier times, the 
Hopi, an agricultural people, were greatly har- 
assed by the various nomadic bands of other In- 

dian tribes of this region. Their folklore and 
history furnish evidence of this. It certainly ap- 
pears that such a location of dwellings is a very 
good adaptation to a condition of warfare Initiated 
by powerful nomadic tribes. But the question 
artses, Why do they live on top of these mesas 
now that there Is a condition of peace enforced 
by the United States government? The HopI 
have not been subject to attack since the Navaho 
last went on the warpath and were effectively dis- 
persed by Kit Carson, who, in the 'sixties, scat- 
tered them and deported large numbers. Such 
a location of dwellings does not appear now In 
times of peace to be the best adaptation. The 
mesas are several hundred feet high. Women 
must toil daily up this ascent with their heavy 
jugs of water and the men with their corn and 
firewood. It Is a long climb for the children 
who go to the government schools which are 
built at the foot of the mesas. However, these 
pueblo dwellers are now beginning to move their 
habitations to the foot of the mesas. But why 
didn't they move down before this? Probably a 
strong incentive to move down is the trading 
stores and the government schools which have 
been built below. But It would seem that if they 
had moved down a half-century earlier, they 
would have been saved much labor and Incon- 
venience. The danger of attack, if this was the 


cause of living on top of the mesas, has not Ex- 
isted for fifty years. A custom, whatever may 
once have been Its justification, seems to have 
lagged after the conditions had changed. 

The foregoing Illustrations have been cited as 
cases that upon Investigation would probably 
show lags in the adaptive culture and degrees of 
maladjustment. A great many more such cases 
from modern social problems could be listed. If 
one should attempt to verify the hypothesis from 
data in each of these illustrative cases and to meas- 
ure In years the time of the lag, the following dififi- 
culties would be encountered. 

It is difficult to show that the adaptive culture 
IS at one time adapted and at another time not 
adapted, and particularly to measure the degree 
of adaptation. Thus to show that legislative as- 
semblies chosen on the basis of locality-represen- 
tation are satisfactorily adapted at one time and 
not at another is not easy to do. And it Is hard 
to prove that the United States has at the pres- 
ent time a less satisfactory organization for 
handling relationships with other nations than 
In the past. It frequently seems to be. In these 
cases, a matter of argument and opinion rather 
than a matter of fact. Adaptation Is a condition 
of degree, complete lack of adaptation or perfect 
adaptation being rare. The lagging adaptive cul- 

ture will of course have some utility of the 
nature discussed In Part III. 

Furthermore, thinking in terms of an ideal, the 
adaptive culture is never wholly harmoniously 
adapted to the material conditions, for the reason 
that there is no ideal limit to this harmonious re- 
lationship. For instance, workmen's compensa- 
tions, or feminism, or conservation of forests, 
may be more satisfactory than former mores, but 
who shall say that these adjustments are ideal? 
When we can think of better adjustments, that is, 
when we make inventions in the adaptive culture, 
the old adaptive culture will appear to lag, since 
it will take, in a purely physical way, some time 
for an invention to spread or be adapted, even 
after it has been thought out or applied once. 

It should not be assumed, of course, that every 
suggested improvement in the adaptive culture is 
a real improvement. There are many social re- 
forms in the air to-day, but certainly not every 
such suggested reform is desirable or will prove 
satisfactory. Thus there are various plans for 
dealing with unemployment and some are quite 
impracticable. Every suggested improvement 
does not prove that there is a lag. 

Another difficulty encountered in measuring lag is 
that changes are sometimes quite gradual. Where 
a change in the material culture or in the adap- 
tive culture is abrupt, it is easy to locate the 

point of change. But this Is not always tlie case. 
When, for Instance, did machine Industry reach 
such a point In its development In the United 
States that It could be called an Industrial na- 
tion? At what point had Industry developed so 
that workmen^s compensation was desirable be- 
cause of Industrial accidents? In such cases the 
development of adaptation or maladjustment Is 
gradual and the ends of a period of maladjust- 
ment will be somewhat indeterminate. But of 
course such an Indeterminate nature of a lag does 
not mean that the lag is any less real. 

Another possible difficulty. In determining a lag 
In adaptive culture, lies ih the task of defining the 
two variables, particularly In defining the adaptive 
culture. In any particular form of culture which 
Is adjusted to material conditions, not all of this 
particular form Is adaptive to the material con- 
ditions. Thus, It Is hard to describe just how 
much of the family organization is subject to 
variation because of a change In the economic sys- 



Up to this point in the consideration of the hy- 


pothesis, there has been little attempt to general- 
ize. A number of particular cultural situations 
have been partially described, and it is clear that 
there are many cases where material conditions 
have changed and where the culture that was ad- 
justed to the old material conditions has lagged 
appreciably behind. More and more such cases 
might be collected but at the cost of considerable 
time for the reader. Rather than an enumera- 
tion of more cases, it is desirable to consider the 
causes of such lags to see if the causes are suffici- 
ently general to give an indication of how wide- 
spread these cultural lags are. Such a considera- 
tion of causes may give as good an idea of how 
extensive the phenomenon may be as does the 
more tedious method of considering individual 

A general inquiry into causes can best be ap- 
proached by citing a number of specific causes. 
It would be possible here to make a thorough- 
going analysis of causes In a single Instance, but 
that would hardly give us the scope of causes that 
is desired. These causes cited will be listed with- 
out any particular significance as to sequence. 

Scarcity of invention in the adaptive culture. 
Sometimes, the adaptation of a culture to changed 
material conditions necessitates what might be 
called an Invention In the adaptive culture. Lack 
of change in governmental forms, for instance, 

may be due to lack of inventions. It has been prev- 
iously pointed out by others that in the field of 
government there is a marked lack of inventive- 
ness. Our city governments followed, for in- 
stance, certain earlier town models and made cer- 
tain borrowings from State governments. The 
rise of cities following the industrial revolution 
has created new conditions to which our city 
governments have not been well adapted. So 
acute an observer as the distinguished author of 
The American Commonwealth has said that the 
most conspicuous failure in government in the 
United States was in the government of cities. 
Of recent years there has been a good deal of ex- 
perimenting with forms of city government; but 
for a long while, during an era of unprecedented 
corruption and bad government, there was a 
dearth of new ideas. The commission form of 
government itself was an invention almost by ac- 
cident. Quite conceivably some new form or 
method of representation in legislative bodies 
would bring an improvement. The growth of 
industrial accidents because of the use of modern 
machines necessitated an invention in the adap- 
tive culture, which is called workmen's compen- 
sation. However, the lack of knowledge of the 
invention was not the cause of the delay in de- 
veloping workmen's compensation in the United 
States, for Germany had the plan in 1884, as has 


already been pointed out. Some adjustments to 
material culture may be made without any special 
invention. Thus the family makes certain ad- 
justments to industry without involving a special 
invention; although such adaptations as play- 
grounds, juvenile courts and pension systems may 
be called inventions. 

Mechanical obstacles to adaptive changes. 
What, is perhaps more frequently true is that the 
invention in adaptive culture is known but there 
is difficulty in getting the invention adopted. 
Some one in comparing invention and diffusion 
has made the remark that it is easier to spread 
butter than it is to make it. It is not, however, 
as easy to spread culture as it is to spread butter. 
A good deal that was said in Part III regarding 
resistance of culture to change is applicable here 
to the special case of lag, as, for instance, habit, 
love of the past, and various utilities of the old 
culture. There does seem to be, however, at 
times a purely physical or mechanical obstacle to 
the spread of some forms of culture. For in- 
stance, in the United States most State legislatures 
meet only every two years and frequently for 
short and limited periods. For this reason alone 
it takes some time for statutory enactments to 
spread throughout the States. The management 
of a subway once attempted to get the passengers 
to enter the end doors of the cars and go out 

the centre doors, for the purpose of expediting 
traffic. The plan was given up, and one of the 
difficulties seemed to be the vast number whose 
habits had to be changed, particularly during 
rush hours. In a democracy such as we have in 
the United States, the people have to become 
familiar with proposed reforms before they are 
sanctioned. This takes time, as every practical 
reformer knows. It involves setting up exten- 
sive machinery of education and propaganda. In- 
deed the obstacles to the spread of any inven- 
tion in the non-material culture are many. 

The heterogeneity of society. A good many 
of these special obstacles to changes arise because 
society is heterogeneous, consisting of many 
classes and groups. The need of the change in 
the adaptive culture is felt by only one class or 
group, whereas the change must be made by the 
society as a whole'. For instance, workmer^^s 
compensation laws are passed by representatives 
of the whole group, whereas they apply to only 
a special class in the whole group. Very prob- 
ably if the whole group were made up exclusively 
of workers liable to injury in industry, there 
would not have been so long a delay in the adop- 
tion of such laws. Changes in the adaptive cul- 
ture work at times for the interests of one group 
but against the interests of another group. A 
great many proposed reforms to-day are for the 

purpose of providing better adjustments for 
classes who are not the rich and powerful classes. 
Many of these proposed reforms, such as reme- 
dies for unemployment, cost money which must 
be raised by taxation or fall as a burden on the 
wealthier classes, who do not appear to derive a 
special benefit from them. It is this raising of 
money which is an obstacle. The class situa- 
tion in modern society Is therefore a source of re- 
sistance to some changes in file adaptive culture. 
It is not clear, however, that the heterogeneity of 
society is a source of resistance to changes in the 
material culture. Perhaps to a certain extent it 
is so. In so far as social classes are causes of 
lags in the adaptive culture, such causes would 
presumably be more frequent in modern society 
than in primitive society. 

The closeness of contact with material culture. 
Another general reason why the adaptive por- 
tions of the non-material culture lag behind the 
changes in the material culture Is the fact that 
the relationship between the adaptive culture and 
the material culture is not very close, but several 
steps removed. Thus the form of a city govern- 
ment Is not so close to industry as the corporate 
organization of Industry Itself. And a general 
philosophy like the laissez faire doctrine is a lit- 
tle further removed from the machinery of indus- 
try than are labor policies. Governmental or- 


ganizations would be expected to adjust them- 
selves somewhat more slowly to industrial changes 
than organizations of labor and capital. Trusts 
would be expected to develop rather quickly with 
changes in industry. In so far as the absence of 
closeness of contact is responsible for a delay in 
the changes of the adaptive culture, this cause 
would operate in any state of society, whether 
it be changes from hunting to domestication of 
animals or from agricultural to industrial condi- 

The comiection of the adaptive culture with 
other parts of culture. Another cause of delay 
in the adjustments is the fact that the particular 
adaptive culture is sometimes correlated with 
some other part of the non-material„culture, as 
perhaps the non-adaptive non-material culture. 
The mores of exploitation may be related to busi- 
ness in general as well as to a particular situa- 
tion like forestry. If exploitation continues a 
good policy in business though not in forestry, 
presumably exploitation in regard to forestry 
would be more difficult to change because the ex- 
ploitation is a general policy which continues sat- 
isfactorily applicable to other parts of culture 
such as business. If the adaptive culture, x, is 
correlated with another part of culture, z, as 
well as with the material culture, y; then, if y 
changes and z does not change, x will be more 

slow to change than would be true If it were not 
correlated with the third factor, z. Thus the 
position of women, x, is adapted to the industrial 
situation, y; but it is also related to the family- 
husband-children situation, z. The industrial 
situation, y, changes, but the family-husband- 
children situation, z, remains; therefore it would 
seem that changes in the position of women, x, 
would be slowed up some in its adjustment to in- 
dustry, y, beckuse of the correlation between x 
and z and the fact that z Is stable. Another 
illustration Is the fact that the desirability of In- 
dividualism as a general policy In education, the 
family, or in business, may make It difficult to 
give it up In government or social reform. 

Group valuations. Still another reason why 
some forms of non-material culture are slow to 
change appears to be the strong position they oc- 
cupy in the valuations of the group. This is par- 
ticularly true of morals, mores and some customs. 
Customs become mores because of the strong ap- 
proval of them as a policy by the group. The 
group decides that certain ways of doing things 
are right and there Is group pressure to enforce 
conformity. Certain emotional values of appro- 
val become attached to these ways of doing 
things. These emotional values of group ap- 
proval appear to be forces resisting change, per- 
haps partly because of habit, conditioned reflexes, 


social pressure, love of the past through forget- 
ting the unpleasant, and perhaps the recogni- 
tion that these ways of doing things have worked 
in the past. It is possible the group approval 
may attach itself somewhat more strongly to 
these ways of doing things as seen in morals, 
customs and institutions than to material objects. 
It is of course true that individuals love the soil 
or a ship, or hate a drug, but group valuations 
of institutions and mores are very strong. Thus 
the family, the Constitution of the United States, 
a political party, individualism, monogamy, all 
seem to be protected by a group pressure or ap- 
proval which constitutes a distinct force operat- 
ing at least for a time against modification. 
This is what is meant by the saying that institu- 
tionalism resists change. 

There seem to be various special reasons why 
adaptive non-material culture is slow to adjust 
to changed material conditions. The purpose of 
this essay, however, is not so much to ascertain 
causes, as to establish the fact of maladjustments 
between material culture and the adaptive non- 
material culture due to lags in the adaptive cul- 
ture. The consideration of causes was primarily 
for the purpose of seeing whether they were of 
such a general nature as to make the phenomena 
widespread. Of counse, the phenomenon of lag 


would be found only in a situation of cultural 
change. Since it Is In recent times that cultural 
changes are so frequent, the lags in adaptive 
culture are expected to be a problem of only 
modern times. In very early times changes were 
not sufficiently numerous and frequent to give rise 
often to any very significant problem of this na- 
ture, though the Hebrews after migrating to the 
"promised land" had difficulty, as recorded In the 
Old Testament, In giving up mores of the old no- 
madic life and adjusting to the new agricultural 


The problem of a harmonious adjustment be- 
tween the material culture and the adaptive cul- 
ture appears to be a part of a larger problem, 
namely, the harmonious adjustment of all parts of 
a culture In a period of change. This problem 
may be stated in the form of certain questions. 
How closely correlated are the various parts of 
culture? How nice an adjustment Is necessary or 
desirable between the different parts of culture? 
And to what extent Is this adjustment maintained 

in periods of cultural change? These questions 
are altogether too large to be considered In any 
detail. And It Is questionable whether any sort 
of quick general answer can be given upon which 
reliance can be placed. Hobhouse attacked this 
problem In part in the volume, The Material Cul- 
ture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples. 
He attempted to correlate social institutions with 
material cultures. The correlation did not ap- 
pear to be very great. The data of ethnology 
show a great many possible combinations between 
different parts of culture. For instance, there are 
hunting peoples with polygamy and monogamy, 
and pastoral cultures with polygamy and polyan- 
dry. The position of women may be high or low 
In hunting cultures and equally high or equally 
low in agricultural conditions. Tracing descent 
through the father's side only is found in a great 
variety of cultural conditions, so also is descent 
traced through the mother's side. Finer analyses 
will no doubt show closer interrelations between 
some parts of culture. Thus while polygamy 
or monogamy is found in a variety of cultural 
situations it may be true that the functions 
performed by the family are closely related to the 
economic conditions, as is claimed by Grosse.^^ 
Lowie has shown some significant changes that oc- 

18 Ernest Grosse, Die Formen der Familie und dU Formen 
der Wirtschafu 


curred when the Chukchee changed from seal- 
hunting and fishing to reindeer-breeding.^^ WIss- 
ler has described certain changes that occurred 
among the Plains Indians after the Introduction 
of the horse. 2^ Private ownership of large- 
scale industry is correlated with some form of 
labor union. Some parts of culture appear to be 
quite closely interdependent, whereas other parts 
appear more or less independent. Various parts 
of the non-material culture are correlated with 
each other as well as with the material culture. 
No satisfactory presentation of this larger gen- 
eral problem can be made here; we shall do well 
Indeed to present, In so short a space, the smaller 
problem of the maladjustment between material 
culture and certain adaptive cultures. 

It does seem to be true, however, that people 
can live, society can exist, under very varied com- 
binations of different parts of culture. Thus 
there are possible many different degrees of ad- 
justment. But varied conditions under which 
people live furnish evidence as to what are the 
most harmonious combinations. Society can ex- 
ist without unemployment insurance, but unem- 
ployment insurance may be a much better social 
condition. People can live in periods of consider- 

19 Robert H. Lowie, Primitwe Society, pp. 198-201. 

20 Clark Wissler, "The Influence of the Horse in the Devel- 
opment of Plains Culture," American Anthropologist, New 
Series, Vol. XVI, No. i, pp. 1-25. 


able social maladjustments, but it does not follow 
that such a life Is the most satisfactory or that ef- 
fort should not be made to make better adjust- 
ments in the social heritage. 


There remain, however, a few other considera- 
tions to be made in inquiring how generally the 
hypothesis of lag may justifiably be applied. It 
has been shown that when the material culture 
changes there are frequently lags in the old adap- 
tive culture before changes providing satisfactory 
adjustment have been made. It Is not to be im- 
plied, of course, that changes may not be made in 
the non-material culture and that part which is 
adaptive to material conditions while the material 
culture remains constant. Indeed, it is conceiv- 
able that a change may first occur in non-material 
culture and later the material culture be adjusted 
to such a change. Thus religion may change and 
an adaptation affecting material conditions may be 
made to the religious ideas, as In the develop- 
ment of taboos against the use of certain animals 
as foods or the development of architecture in 

houses of worship. There may be progress 
in science, to be followed by changes in the 
material culture, which may be thought of as 
adaptations of material culture to science. Mor- 
alists may argue that the material culture is ad- 
justed to moral principles, rather than a moral 
adjustment to the material conditions. There 
are, therefore, some changes in the non-material 
culture that precede and to which the material 
culture is later adjusted, and we wish to know 
whether in our modern culture most of the initial 
changes are in the material culture or in the non- 
material culture. 

Concerning the question of whether in modern 
times the initiation of the vast cultural changes 
that are taking place so rapidly lies more largely 
with the material culture or with the non-material 
culture, it should be recalled that there are a great 
many changes occurring in the material culture 
because of inventions. As an illustration, there 
are thousands and thousands of different types of 
machines for production, all recently invented. 
Many changes are being made in the material fac- 
tors In transportation, by means of steam, electric- 
ity and gasoline, by land, sea and air. There 
are new types of dwellings; and the variety of 
new types of consumption goods is bewildering. 
Why are there these multitudinous changes in ma- 
terial culture to-day? And more particularly, 


are these changes in material culture consequent 
to changes In the non-material culture and adap- 
tive to the various forms of non-material culture ? 
It certainly does not appear that the uses of 
steam, or electricity, or gasoline are undertaken 
for the purpose of making adjustments to a 
changed form of social organization, or a particu- 
lar concept of morals, or to a religious doctrine 
or to any other form of non-material culture. 
These material inventions appear to be made 
and adopted with the idea of satisfying Individual 
wants, because they bring comfort, rest, speed, 
enlightenment, or wealth. The power of steam 
saves human energy and steam is used instead of 
the human arm to turn machines. But the intro- 
duction of steam makes changes in home pro- 
duction, the growth of cities, changes In the 
position of women, new causes of war. It has its 
effect upon the birth rate, the functions of the 
church, and the nature of education. If, for 
illustration, there had not been discovered these 
sources of power for turning wheels, that is, if 
we were still producing by the energy or power of 
human beings and domesticated animals only, 
cities would have been few, concentration of pro- 
duction in factories would not have taken place, 
production would be largely on the farms 
and In the home, the position of women would 
'have been much as of old. Some changes would 

have occurred in education, in religion and in 
morals. But there seems to be no doubt that 
the Influences on non-material culture flowing 
from the use of steam have been profound. 
There Is no reason to think that steam was 
adopted In order to make an adjustment to 
some part of the non-material culture. 

Certainly a large part of the non-material cul- 
ture appears to be by nature a method of adjust- 
ment either to material culture or to natural en- 
vironment or to both. The phrase, ways of do- 
ing things. Is a generalized characterization of a 
large part of non-material culture. Social organ- 
ization, customs and morals are the means of a 
collective way of doing things, in large part to 
and with the natural environment and material 
culture, either simply, directly and individually, 
or somewhat Indirectly, remotely and collectively. 
Such methods of behavior would therefore pre- 
sumably change if the natural environment or 
the material culture changed. While Initial 
changes may occur through Invention In social 
institutions, religions, laws, etc., one would hardly 
expect the material culture to change frequently 
for the purpose of making adaptations to these 
ways of doing things. 

But some forms of non-materigl culture are ways 
of doing things valuable for their own ends and 
not particularly concerned with material condi- 

^tions. Thus art serves aesthetic desires, relatively 
free from considerations of material culture. 
The sex Instinct functions with little relation to 
material culture. Religion as a form of culture 
meets certain needs, Irrespective of material 
culture. And social organization may not only 
be a way of adjustment to material conditions 
but it may serve independently certain other 
human desires such as the desire for sociability. 
So, much of non-material culture has purposes 
quite its own, which may be attained with very 
little use of material culture in almost any en- 
vironment. This difference in the nature of the 
parts of non-material culture led us In the analysis 
to the segregation of the part which Is more 
closely adapted to material culture; and this was 
called adaptive culture. While it Is true that 
much of non-material culture is not highly adapted 
to material conditions, it Is also true that the 
material culture is not adapted to such types of 
non-adaptive non-material culture. In other 
words, we should not expect frequent changes In 
material culture to be made for purposes of ad- 
justment to types of non-material culture, such as 
religion, art, ceremonies and literature. 

It would be interesting to know whether there 

IS anything in the nature of material culture or of 

non-material culture which would make a greater 

frequency of inventions In one or the other. The 


accumulative nature of material culture resulting 
in increasing cultural base was thought to be in 
part responsible for the great number of material 
changes to-day. Is the non-material culture simi- 
larly accumulative resulting in increased cultural 
base ? The non-material culture is so diverse that 
it is difficult even to make a general guess. But 
religion does not appear to be particularly accumu- 
lative, neither is the family organization. Art, 
literature, government seem to be somewhat ac- 
cumulative but probably not so much so as ma- 
terial culture. Science seems to be rather highly 
accumulative. The cumulative aspect of cus- 
toms, mores, and 'Vays of doing things'* would 
appear to rest in part on the cumulative nature of 
material culture. It may therefore be that the 
increasing cultural base as an immediate factor 
in producing inventions or change may be more 
characteristic of material culture than of non- 
material culture. There are of course other 
factors affecting inventions and change, and in 
earlier times the non-material culture may have 
been quite heterogeneous and complex while the 
material culture may have been simple. 

Evidence as to the susceptibility to change of 
the different parts of culture may be drawn from 
studies In the diffusion of culture. Which is the 
more easily adopted by a people, the material 
culture or the non-material culture? Wissler, 

whose studies of the culture areas of the Ameri- 
can Indian furnish excellent perspectives of the 
borrowing of cultures by one tribe from another, 
remarks :^^ 

The term culture as used by anthropologists gen- 
erally includes such groups of traits as social organiza- 
tion, ceremonial activities, art and material culture. Of 
these it appears that social organization is less readily 
changed in contrast to the last. It is food, shelter and 
transportation complexes of material culture that the 
intruding group will take over bodily. Then the 
chances are that one by one the associated ceremonies 
always found intimately connected with food production 
will be taken over to displace those now made useless, 
and ultimately drag in their social counterparts. Even 
a superficial view of the data so far accumulated by 
anthropologists will show how well this hypothetical 
picture fits the facts for several culture centres. 

While Wissler's generalization may be true for 
the data he has dealt with, a statement that 
material culture spreads more easily from one 
group to another than other features of culture, 
such as social organization and ceremonies, is 
probably only true in general, or on the average. 
There are many exceptions and qualifications. 
Some ceremonies and religious movements have 

21 Clark Wissler, "Aboriginal Maize Culture as a Typical 
Culture Complex," Amsrican Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXI, 
March, 1916, p. 661. 


swept over areas with great rapidity. But the 
statement that material culture Is borrowed first 
and non-material culture later suggests that Ithe 
adoption of Inventions In material culture will 
be somewhat earlier than changes In the non-ma- 
terial culture, and that obstacles to change are 
found In connection with non-material culture that 
are not found with the material culture. 

The foregoing analysis has been undertaken for 
the purpose of inquiring whether there is anything 
In the nature of culture which would indicate 
whether the vast number of cultural changes tak- 
ing place to-day were Initiated largely in the field 
of material culture or in the field of non-material 
culture. If the foregoing analysis is sound, it 
would seem that a preponderant number of 
changes are begun In the material culture causing 
changes In the non-material culture. And while 
there may be some changes occurring In the non- 
material culture, not initiated or caused by changes 
in the material culture, these changes do not in 
themselves very frequently precipitate changes in 
the material culture. It therefore follows that if 
to-day a great number of the cultural changes 
occurring are started by changes in the material 
culture, thereby causing changes in the non- 
material culture, particularly adaptive culture, the 
hypothesis of lags is widely applicable. Whether 
this lag is appreciable in length of time or in 


severity of effect can only be told in each instance 
by analysis and measurement. 

These considerations give prominence to ma- 
terial culture as a factor in the changing society of 
to-day. This prominence is due to three facts. 
First is the great accumulation of material cul- 
ture. Second, the material culture is changing so 
frequently and so rapidly. And third, the ma- 
terial culture causes so many changes in other 
features of society. The magnitude of material 
culture to-day is very striking. Greece had devel- 
oped a non-material culture to a high degree, 
comparing well with our own. But the material 
culture of Greece was much less advanced. The 
material culture of modern society is also much 
more elaborate than the material culture of so- 
called primitive peoples. Among these peoples 
the environment and natural resources were of 
very great significance to them, determining within 
limits their food supply, their shelter, their cloth- 
ing. Climate, geographical conditions, and nat- 
ural resources made, for instance, many differ- 
ences between the pueblo dwellers of Mexico and 
the Eskimo of the north or the Indians of the 
plains. Material culture to-day, particularly since 
the development of trade, is conquering limita- 
tions imposed by climate. And on account 
of its size and increased significance, adjust- 
ments not only have to be made to geograph- 


ical conditions as was true in primitive culture, 
but we must also make adjustments to ma- 
terial culture. From the point of view of ad- 
justments, then, material culture is replacing in 
significance to a certain extent the geographical 
environment of old. But there is this distinction, 
the material culture to-day changes frequently 
whereas the changes in geographical conditions 
are slow. This makes problems of adjustment 

The very fact that material culture is to-day 
undergoing such rapid changes means that it is 
significant as a cause of social phenomena. In 
the analysis of causes of any phenomenon, it is 
the factors that are variable that are said to be 
causes. The variability of modern material cul- 
ture is one of the reasons for the prominence of 
the modern doctrine of the economic interpreta- 
tion of history. Ethnologists are as a rule not 
so much impressed with the theory of the eco- 
nomic interpretation of history as are students of 
modern culture, and perhaps for the reason that 
the material culture was neither so large nor so 
variable in primitive society as in the modern era. 

A recognition of the significance of material 
culture in modern society need not identify one 
with what is sometimes called materialism. Con- 
trasts are made usually between the material and 
the ideal, spiritual or religious in reference to 

life's values rather than In reference to sociologi- 
cal factors. One can recognize the influence of 
material culture, without of course denying the 
influence of other cultural factors. And one may 
work, of course, towards shaping material cul- 
ture to ends and purposes that may be in accord 
with the ideals and the spirit. It is only by a 
recognition of the significance of material culture 
that social reformers can hope in a practical way 
to modify or direct it. 


The development of the hypothesis considered 
in this chapter may be summarized as follows: 
Material culture in changing causes other social 
changes in what was defined as adaptive culture. 
But frequently there is a delay in the changes 
thus caused, so that the old adaptive culture hangs 
over into the new material conditions. This lag 
in the adaptive culture produces a period of mal- 
adjustment, which is less harmonious as an adap- 
tation than the period which precedes or follows. 
This hypothesis was considered carefully in the 
case of workmen's compensation for industrial ac- 
cidents. The lag in the old adaptive culture was 
measured in years and the hypothesis was verified 
by the facts. It was thought that similar proof 
could be given In many such instances, and a 


number of such probable cases were cited. The 
further application of the hypothesis by data and 
statistics was abandoned on account of the limita- 
tions of space, and some considerations as to na- 
ture and causes were undertaken to inquire how 
widespread was the situation described in the case 
of workmen's compensation. 

It was thought probable from the nature of 
material culture and its changes, and the nature 
of non-material culture and its changes, that at 
the present time a great many initial changes 
were occurring in the material culture which were 
causing changes in other parts of culture. Spec- 
ial forces and causes were thought to exist which 
caused changes in certain parts of non-material 
culture to spread less rapidly than changes in the 
material culture. There are, therefore, a great 
many instances where the material culture changes 
first and the other social changes which it causes 
follow later. In some cases these lags may be 
so brief as to be insignificant, but in a great many 
cases the lags causing maladjustments may be so 
long as to be socially very significant. The ex- 
tent of the lag and the severity of the maladjust- 
ment should be measured in each instance. The 
great size of material culture to-day, its rapidity 
of change, and its significance as a source of other 
changes in society make the material culture in 
modern society play a most important part. 


Since lags in social movements causing social 
maladjustments follow changes in material cul- 
ture, and since there are many rapid changes in 
material culture, it follows that there will be an 
accumulation of these lags and maladjustments. 

According to the analysis made in Part 
II, the growth of material culture was shown 
to become faster and faster. If the ma- 
terial culture should continue to accumulate and 
change with increasing rapidity, it would seem 
that the cultural lags will pile up even more than 
at the present time. Such a development creates 
quite a task for those who would direct the course 
of social progress, the task of eliminating these 
maladjustments by making the adjustments to ma- 
terial changes more rapid. It is thinkable that 
the piling up of these cultural lags may reach such 
a point that they may be changed in a somewhat 
wholesale fashion. In such a case, the word 
revolution probably describes what happens. 
There may be other limiting factors to such a 
course of development; and our analysis is not 
sufficiently comprehensive and accurate to make 
definite prediction. But certain trends at the 
present time seem unmistakable. 





In the preceding chapter, the discussion con- 
cerned the harmonious adjustment of the different 
parts of the social heritage, particularly during a 
process of rapid social change. It was there 
shown that a number of social problems arise 
because the different parts of culture change at 
unequal rates. In the present chapter we wish to 
consider some of the problems that arise, not 
from the lack of adjustment of the various parts 
of culture, but from the lack of adjustment be- 
tween human nature and culture. Since the publi- 
cation of the Origin of Species, there has been a 
great deal of discussion of the adaptation of man 
to environment. Our problem, though, deals not 
with the whole of environment but with that part 
which is called culture: and the concern is not 
with man as a whole, but with man's inherited 
psychological equipment. Furthermore, the em- 
phasis in the problem is not wholly on the adapta- 
tion of human nature to culture, but on the ad- 
justment between human nature and culture, which 
includes the possibility of an adaptation of culture 
to human nature. Naturally, the question i§ 


raised as to how satisfactory an adjustment be- 
tween human nature and culture exists, particularly 
when we consider the possibilities of making bet- 
ter adjustments. The question is such a broad 
one, that its many phases ramify into a large 
number of special hypotheses, which may in time 
be verified by detailed data. No detailed study 
is to be made here, however. Our purpose is 
rather to chart the problem and draw such con- 
clusions as the general analysis and present status 
seem to warrant. 


Evolution in man. The problem can best be 
outlined by approaching it from the point of view 
of social evolution, developed in Part II. The 
consideration of social evolution there made con- 
cerned the possible changes, in the course of time, 
in human nature and in culture. Man has been on 
the earth for 50,000 years or possibly for several 
hundred thousand. Skeletal remains indicate that 
his evolution has been slow. The evidence we 
have of the way biological evolution takes place 
confirms the view as to the slowness of evolution. 
Mutations are infrequent. It was claimed in th? 

second chapter that no proof had been made that 
there had been any significant biological evolution 
of man since the last glacial period. It is of 
course possible that there may have been signifi- 
cant changes in man's biological nature since that 
time, although we do not have conclusive proof; 
and it would seem probable that there may have 
been some mutations, but of just what significance 
it is not known. The whole question of the sig- 
nificance of biological evolution in man for sociol- 
ogy has been confused by the vast cultural changes 
that have taken place. But it seems possible for 
the tremendous cultural evolution since the last 
ice age to have occurred without any significant 
biological change. Human nature as thought of 
in terms of hereditary equipment may very prob- 
ably be fundamentally the same now as in the last 
glacial period. Indeed in many respects man's 
psychological nature is quite similar to that of the 
anthropoids. It certainly is true that man's na- 
ture is much more like that of the cave men than 
the appearance of cultural differences would lead 
one to think. The apparent differences may be 
cultural, acquired since birth in the course of a 
lifetime. The fact that this is diflUcult to con- 
ceive lies in our ignorance of the cultural process 
and our failure to understand the power of cul- 
Cultural evolution. On the other hand, cul- 

tural change is not so slow as biological change, 
especially In modern times. In early times, to be 
sure, the rate of cultural change was very slow. 
Man for a very long time was in the rough stone 
age, probably for hundreds of thousands of years. 
Then culture developed quickly through the neo- 
lithic age and through the use of metals up to the 
high mechanical achievements of to-day. That 
the latter stages of this cultural development oc- 
curred without any significant biological changes 
Is practically certain. 

The primitive nature of man and the artificial 
nature of civilization. The course of cultural 
evolution and of biological change in man as set 
forth in the foregoing paragraphs throws some 
light on the problems of adjustment between 
human nature and modern culture. Man Is the 
same biologically as he was in the late ice age, 
while his culture has suddenly become vastly dif- 
ferent. The problem may be popularly ex- 
pressed as that of cave men trying to live in a 
modern city. Suppose we could place a group 
of Cro-Magnon men in a modern city. What 
would be some of the difficulties of adjustment 
for them? It Is fairer to Imagine a group of 
their children being brought up in a modern city. 
Can we, being biologically the same as Cro- 
Magnon men, adjust ourselves to the sedentary 
life demanded of office workers? If we suffer 

from indigestion, can it be due to the fact that we 
do not eat the food that the cave men ate; or 
that we do not take the muscular exercise which 
the life of the primitive hunter demanded? Do 
we have difficulties in adjusting ourselves to our 
institution of marriage and a rigid sex code? 
May these difficulties be due to our primitive na- 
ture which may have been adjusted In the age of 
the cave dwellers and anthropoids to a more pro- 
miscuous expression? May our wanderlust ten- 
dencies be traced to the fact that primitive men 
were wandering hunters ? Is the monotonous and 
specialized work on a machine for many hours a 
day for every week in the year and for many con- 
secutive years the type of life to which our equip- 
ment is naturally adapted? These questions sug- 
gest the nature of the problem of adjustment as 
it is popularly conceived and suggest the Idea that 
modern civilization Is essentially artificial, that Is, 
not like the culture of the hunting peoples which 
is assumed to be more natural. 

It is claimed that a great many social problems 
such as war, crime, sexual phenomena and disease 
arise because of the inability or difficulty of the 
original nature of man to adapt itself to modern 
conditions and cultural standards. So also it is 
claimed that much of our unhappiness, nervous- 
ness and insanity is traceable to the same general 
causes. Certainly human nature is at the bottom 


ot many of our social and individual ills in the 
sense that if human nature were only different 
these problems would not exist. If we were less 
selfish, less passionate, less pugnacious, more rea- 
sonable, more kindly, and more tolerant, our social 
problems would not be so numerous nor so diffi- 
cult, and it is quite possible that certain standards 
of civilization are set rather high for our primi- 
tive nature to conform to. 

Evidently to understand the problem of adapta- 
tion we must know what human nature is like and 
we must understand the nature of modern culture 
and the extent of its artificiality. Can it be that 
we are really cave people trying to adjust our- 
selves to factory life? This strange but plausible 
theory may be taken as a point of departure for 
a critical estimate of the problems of adaptation 
between human nature and culture. As pre- 
viously indicated, two assumptions may be taken 
as strongly probable; one Is that modern man Is 
biologically very much the same as the men of 
the old stone age, and the other is that modern 
civilization Is recent, of short history, and very 
different from the hunting culture. While this 
much of the theory Is sound, as appears from the 
analysis of Part II, the remaining parts of the 
theory we have not examined. This will be done 
in the following paragraphs. 

The adaptation of cave man. It Is true that 

man, or some creature much like man, lived for 
many hundreds of thousands of years hunting 
wild animals, gathering herbs, nuts or fruits, and 
inhabited trees or caves. There must have been 
some measure of adaptation to this environment 
and type of life, but it should not be too readily 
assumed that the adaptation was perfect. It may 
have been only a partially satisfactory adaptation, 
however; we do not know very much about what 
this life was like. On the physical side, for in- 
stance, it was an outdoor life as contrasted with 
life in our modern houses. The cave men lived 
a much more physically active life than modern 
office workers. Certain surmises can be made 
regarding the type of food eaten and the type of 
physical activities engaged in. But guesses as to 
the instinctive life, as to how much they fought, 
loved, hated, feared, or were gregarious, are 
probably wide of the mark. At least speculation 
by theorists as to how peoples with primitive cul- 
tures function psychologically has often been far 
from the facts as observed by field workers. So 
we have very little basis to go on for forming an 
estimate of the psychological adaptation of primi- 
tive man of very early cultures. 

Objection should also be made to the use of the 
phrase, "cave man," as biologically or psycho- 
logically descriptive of man. A description in 
terms of instincts, capacities and mechanisms is 


preferable. The term, "cave man," suggests a 
type of cultural life rather than a biological 
equipment. Any description of human nature in 
terms of cultural activities is misleading, for it is 
conceivable that the psychological equipment may 
function equally well in a thousand different cul- 
tures. Satisfactory adaptation is not necessarily 
confined to any one type of cultural life, even 
though that may have been the type of life exist- 
ing for hundreds of thousands of years. Thus 
one may take exercise in a gymnasium as well as 
in the hunt. And many different stimuli may 
arouse fear as satisfactorily as a wild beast. As 
a descriptive term "the cave man" is bad because 
of the misleading associations that inevitably 
come to mind, as a result of childhood tales or 
novel-reading or Sunday supplements to the news- 
papers, or what not. These associations are just 
as misleading as popular notions about savagery 
and barbarism are false. Though we may be 
cave people trying to live in a modern city, we are 
little the wiser for this knowledge because we 
know little of what the cave man is biologically 
and psychologically. 

The slowness of the biological process o£ 
adaptation. Another point in the theory of the 
cave man in the modern city is that our biological 
nature is not adapted to civilization because of the 
comparatively short time that we have been living 

in civilization. If the adapting is all to be done 
from the biological side then certainly the two 
or three thousand years of civilization and the one 
hundred and fifty years of industrialism are not 
long enough times to make biological adaptations, 
acquired characteristics not being Inherited and 
mutations occurring rarely. But it does not fol- 
low that there is not adaptation. Such an as- 
sumption Is wholly from the biological side. 
Adaptations may be made on the side of culture. 
And the two thousand years of civilization In 
Europe are conceivably not too short a time for 
culture to be adjusted to man. 

The artificiality of modem civilization. Fur- 
thermore, the argument stresses the fact that 
modern civilization is very different from the cul- 
ture of the ice ages and that the amount of this 
difference is an indication of the lack of adapta- 
tion. This great difference may simply appear 
to be different in physical outlines. From the 
point of view of the functioning of instincts, the 
difference may not be so great as the objective 
measurements of the material culture would indi- 
cate. Thus one's appetite may be satisfied by any 
one of a very great number of foods. The type 
of material culture does not necessarily cause 
variations in the extent to which we are pug- 
nacious or become angry. We love irrespective 
of the particular fashion of courtship. We may 

rind adventure in modern life as truly as it was 
found in the hunter's life. Monotony is by no 
means confined to the modern factory; unques- 
tionably routine existed in the primitive life of 
man. It may be that the instinctive life of mod- 
ern men is greatly different from that of cave men, 
but the theory based merely on the objective dif- 
ferences between modern and early culture does 
not of itself prove such a great difference. 

Instinctive activities of modern and ancient 
man. Perhaps the method of testing the theory 
under consideration that most readily comes to 
mind is that of comparing the emotional and in- 
stinctive life of man in ancient society with that 
of man living in modern society. Such a method 
implies a listing of the different instincts and a 
consideration of the functioning of each one both 
in the hunting cultures and in modern industrial 
society. If such a comparison could be made it 
would yield the information we want. But think 
of the difficulties of making such a comparison. 
Lists of instincts and emotions have been made, 
but such a list tells us little about their nature, 
interrelations, or relative significance. It is even 
difficult to describe adequately the emotions and 
instincts involved in a single act; how much more 
difficult is it then to characterize even roughly the 
instincts and emotions involved in the many 
different acts of a people. We have no statis- 

tical record of the behavior of the instincts of 
man from the hunting cultures, or of man In mod- 
ern civilization. Perhaps the best that could be 
done In comparing the life In modern and ancient 
cultures Is to point out, roughly, certain obvious 
differences In cultural activities, leaving to sur- 
mise the Instincts Involved. But In such a com- 
parison, which of the early cultures shall we 
choose and which type of the very heteroge- 
neous modern society? These comparisons will 
at best be fragments and guesses, as the fol- 
lowing illustrations Indicate. 

For instance, with some individuals in modern 
life there Is probably greater intellectual activity 
involving concentration, thought, sustained atten- 
tion and concern with abstractions, than would be 
found among primitive hunters; though primi- 
tive hunters probably functioned much more fre- 
quently along these lines than Is commonly sup- 
posed. Laborers who work twelve hours a day 
seven days a week doing the same tasks In the 
steel mills may have a smaller variety of emo- 
tional and instinctive reactions expressed in daily 
behavior throughout a year than did the men of 
the simpler hunting cultures. The emotion of 
fear may not find as frequent expression In mod- 
ern times as formerly, but it may be that the 
great prevalence of anxiety in modern life Is an- 
other form of fear expression. In some classes of 


modern society fighting is less frequent, though 
irritation and temper may be other forms of ex- 
pression of pugnacious tendencies. Tendencies 
towards gregariousness may, on the other hand, 
find more frequent expression in modern cities 
than among the small hunting bands of former 
times. As for example, the sex instinct func- 
tions in ways not natural to the hunting peoples 
where large numbers are unmarried, as among the 
male groups working as migratory, casual la- 
borers in some sections of the United States. 
Similarly the instincts of soldiers in prolonged 
trench warfare probably do not function as 
among primitive hunters. It is thus possible to 
make some random observations, but they are 
far from being a complete picture and are sub- 
ject to error. 

Civilization may afford a better adaptation. 
A conclusion in the theory we are considering 
is that we are less satisfactorily adapted on the 
psychological side to civilization, because we are 
after all cave men and because civilization is new 
and different. Although our natures may be much 
the same fundamentally as that of the cave peo- 
ple, and although modern culture is recent and 
different, it does not follow from such theoretical 
considerations that we are less satisfactorily 
adapted. If the adaptation were wholly a biologi- 
cal adaptation, this would be more probable; but 

the culture that has grown may have become a 
more rather than a less satisfactory adjustment 
for human nature. Indeed this would seem to 
be true if culture were simply the result of hu- 
man needs. If culture were solely the result of 
desires, then the longer the history of culture, 
presumably the more satisfactorily desires would 
be met. And If adaptation be the satisfaction 
of desires, then we should expect modern civili- 
zation to afford a better adaptation to human 
nature than the hunting cultures of the stone ages. 
The easy gratification of wishes, however, may 
not be the best adaptation for our organisms. 
Growth and development within a life-time, for 
instance, may proceed best with some effort, some 
denial or struggle. The collective whole of our 
desires may find a better adaptation than by a 
ready yielding to the immediate individual im- 

It Is also somewhat questionable to what ex- 
tent culture as a whole may in its growth come 
to satisfy more and more adequately our desires. 
There is some relationship between culture and 
human needs, but it is not easy to state what 
this relationship is. Many single material in- 
ventions are adopted because they answer a par- 
ticular desire or render a specific comfort. But 
the adjustments they occasion may be many more 
than the particular immediate adjustment at their 


first adoption. Thus steam was used because it 
saved a certain amount of human effort; but the 
cultural changes precipitated by the widespread 
use of steam concerned many other needs than 
that of labor-saving. The effects of a material 
Invention are not only far-reaching; but It seems 
Impossible to foresee the full social consequences, 
and these unforeseeable consequences may be 
much greater than the Immediate desire gratified 
by Its adoption. Inventions and discoveries may 
create unpredictable situations that may Indeed 
be even dangerous. Thus a hunting people may 
by the adoption of the gun kill off Its food sup- 
ply; just as we may create inventions that may ex- 
haust our natural resources. 

In a previous analysis of cultural growth, It was 
pointed out that the nature of Its future growth 
depended a great deal upon the past. What 
was called the cultural base plays a very large 
part In determining what the future trend will 
be. This fact, therefore, limits the effort of hu- 
man will and desire In creating new forms. It 
Is not as though human desire were unlimited In 
creating as It wills. These considerations make 
one less assured that the growth of culture Is 
towards the greater satisfaction of desire or to- 
wards a better adaptation. From such general 
considerations It Is difficult to say whether we 
should expect modern civilization to afford a bet- 


ter adaptation to the original nature of man than 
the simple cultures of food-gatherers and hunters. 
It may or it may not. Perhaps some parts of 
our heterogeneous culture may afford a better 
adaptation and some parts may not. The ques- 
tion can probably be better answered by consider- 
ing specific instances and problems rather than 
by such general consideration. 

What is meant by adaptation or adjustment be- 
tween culture and human nature is a question 
which must have occurred to the reader in fol- 
lowing the preceding analysis. The idea is taken 
over from biology. We say that a polar bear 
is adapted to the environment of the Arctic circle, 
but not to life at the equator. It means a har- 
mony In the functioning of all parts of an ani- 
mal's equipment in a certain environment. The 
question here arises as to what is such a proper 
functioning of human nature in a given environ- 
ment. Probably any definition which covers all 
such situations would be so general as to be of 
little value. More light will be thrown on the 
conception of adjustment, when the repression of 
the instincts Is discussed later on. It should be 
observed that one's notion of adaptation In some 
cases depends somewhat on one's attitude towards 
life, one's idea of progress, or one's religious 

Human nature changes within a lifetime. An- 


other point in the foregoing theory of human na- 
ture about which there may be confusion is the 
idea of its slowness to change over a long period 
of time. When it is said that man has probably 
not changed much in thousands of years, what 
is meant is that the part that is passed on by hered- 
ity has probably not changed much. Mankind 
may not change over a long period of years, yet 
there may be very great changes occurring in an 
individual during a lifetime. But such changes 
are acquired characteristics and are not trans- 
mitted by heredity. The apparently extremely 
great variations of human nature within different 
generations are in part deceptive, because what 
is thus seen to be varied is not alone human na- 
ture, but the cultural expression of human na- 
ture. In our modern culture an individual may 
utilize opportunities in higher education and de- 
velop to a considerable extent the personality 
of the student or the scholar. On the other 
hand, if born into a situation where the opportu- 
nities to read and to write were denied, a person- 
ality different in some respects would be devel- 
oped. To say that we are cave people trying to 
live in a modern city means that we bring to 
modern culture a human equipment that is rel- 
atively fixed over centuries, but not wholly fixed 
within a generation. This indicates how it is 


possible for the same human nature to appear so 
different in two very different cultures. 

Partial use of the instinctive equipment. An- 
other source of difficulty in getting a clear mean- 
ing out of the theory that we are cave people 
living in a modern city lies in differences in the 
understanding of the requirements of human na- 
ture. Must our instinctive equipment be fully 
employed? The point at issue may be set forth 
in the following manner. Men of the old stone 
age had a muscular system that fitted them 
excellently for running, climbing, hitting and for 
performing the various acts involved in hunting 
and getting food. We have this same muscular 
equipment. But many of us no longer run, climb 
or hit. We are carried about in vehicles and 
spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk. We 
probably do not make use of this muscular equip- 
ment as fully as did the primitive hunter. It 
was a very necessary mechanism in adapting him 
to his environment. In the adaptation of the 
modern office worker to his envii^onment the va- 
ried assortment of muscles is less actively em- 
ployed. Failure to exercise adequately our mus- 
cles is said to involve serious consequences affect- 
ing kidneys, blood pressure and digestion. 
Using the muscles is found to have distinctly bene- 
ficial effects upon our health. If we take the 

proper amount of exercise we feel better and 
stronger and the different bodily organs function 
more satisfactorily. So it has become necessary 
to devise some artificial means of exercising. 
This physical equipment of muscles cannot with 
safety be allowed to fall into disuse. 

There comes down to us from our remote an- 
cestors not only a set of muscles, but also, it is 
said, a group of instincts, such as the sex instinct, 
the pugnacious instinct and the gregarious in- 
stinct. These instincts were of adaptive and sur- 
vival value for the early primitive hunters just 
as truly as were their muscles. Fear and pug- 
nacity alike saved life. The sex instinct created 
and perpetuated it. There was safety In num- 
bers drawn together by sociability and gregar- 
ious tendencies. In modern culture, some of our 
industrial occupations. In contrast to the hunting 
life, apparently do not need such a rich and va- 
ried equipment of Instincts for their requirements. 
Consider, for instance, the factory workers, or 
factory "hands" as they were classified In the 
enumerations of the earlier censuses. The re- 
quirements of factory work could be met by a 
much less varied and rich assortment of instincts 
than the human being possesses. Just as the fac- 
tory extracts for its use from a wonderful mus- 
cular endowment only a portion of the muscles, 
so apparently the factory life requires not all of 

the instinctive tendencies and aptitudes. What 
is desired of them is that they become automatic 
like the machines, mere factory hands. Some 
types of modern cultural environment need only 
a part of the inheritance of instinctive tendencies. 
It has been found that In the case of muscles, to 
let them fall into disuse is detrimental to the or- 
ganism. Does the parallel hold true In regard 
to the instincts? Is it harmful not to make use 
of the instincts? 

The problem of the cave man and modern civ- 
ilization raises the question as to whether only 
the partial use of man's equipment is a bad 
adaptation. Does the passive role or the lack of 
use of some of the instinctive tendencies result 
in harmful consequences to the individual, and is 
it thus a sign of lack of adjustment between hu- 
man nature and culture? The problem as for- 
mulated above is plausible partly because of the 
analogy drawn between the situation with regard 
to the muscles and the situation in regard to the 
instincts. Analogies are often deceptive. For 
general analysis, what Is needed Is more light 
thrown on the nature of this psychological equip- 
ment, a significant portion of which is the in- 

The nature of the instincts. The study of the 
instincts has a long history and much has been 
written on the subject, but we are interested in 

the matter only as It bears on the theory under 
discussion. That some of our behavior is Instinc- 
tive Is seen from our tendencies to fight, to love, to 
be afraid, and we speak of an Instinct to fight, 
the sex instinct, and of an Instinct of flight. Just 
how much of our behavior Is Instinctive is a mat- 
ter of doubt, but that a very large portion Is 
either simply Instinctive, or the result of blends 
or conflicts of these original Instinctive tenden- 
cies more or less modified by habit and learning, 
all will admit. Thus scientific research may re- 
ceive Its Impulse In part from an instinct of curi- 
osity and an explorative tendency. Some reli- 
gious activity arises from fear and an instinctive 
tendency to abnegate self. 

The instincts were at one time thought of as 
more or less mysterious entities residing in the 
body. This idea resembles somewhat the ear- 
lier notion of the feelings, called at that time hu- 
mors. Thus when a person was In a bad humor, 
some such spirit or humor was in possession of 
the body. But it Is now agreed that instinctive 
behavior Is more in the nature of a reaction of 
the body or various parts of It to stimuli. Thus 
there Is a recognition of a stimulus, an accom- 
panying emotion, and a motor reaction. There 
are in all individuals these tendencies to action, 
functioning In response to stimuli. The external 
bodily behavior during emotion and Instinctive 

action has been frequently described, particularly 
in the case of fear and anger. Recently physio- 
logical-psychologists have also learned a good 
deal about the internal changes that occur during 
certain emotional states. The ductless glands, 
particularly the thyroid, pituitary and the adre- 
nals, pour out secretions which produce numerous 
internal modifications, promote activity and are 
probably related to the emotional states. We 
therefore conclude that the energy, drive and 
motivation necessary to that great portion of hu- 
man activity originating from the instincts are in- 
herent in the response of the various parts of the 
body to react to stimuli and we know that certain 
emotional states and desires or wishes accompany 
these responses. 

All this mechanism of instinct is part of the 
original equipment of men, endowed by heredity, 
as truly as are the muscles. We think the whole 
of this equipment functioned in the primitive 
hunter. Is there a satisfactory functioning of 
these mechanisms in the life of the factory worker 
or the city dweller? Just as we may have ungrat- 
ified desires, may we not have repression of the 
instincts? May not certain parts of our equip- 
ment need exercise in instinctive activity as truly 
as the muscles need exercise? Does modern civ- 
ilization provide outlets for these desires, or 
exercise for this part of our equipment? We 

are chiefly interested in the nature of the instincts 
as they relate to these questions. 

Variability in the stimuli to behavior. One 
problem of the nature of the instincts that bears 
directly on our theory concerns the nature of 
the stimuli that arouse our desires and set off 
this instinctive activity, particularly as to whether 
these stimuli are external or inside the body. 
Thus we might have the capacity for anger or 
for response to music, but unless we come in con- 
tact with these external stimuli we may feel no 
particular discomfort because of any lack of func- 
tioning of the pugnacious instinct or of our talent 
for music. There are really two questions here. 
One is whether the tendency to feel anger is 
dependent on some external stimulus. And the 
other is whether the failure of the equipment to 
function, in, say, a pugnacious manner, is a poor 
adaptation between culture and original nature. 
We shall consider now only the first question. 
If we consider hunger or sex rather than anger, 
the dependence of the desire on the external stim- 
ulus is not so clear. Hunger may be caused 
by internal bodily conditions as truly as by the 
smell or sight of food. The absence of food 
from the stomach, conditions affecting the se- 
cretion of gastric juice, contracting motions of 
the walls of the stomach, and perhaps other fac- 
tors force the individual to desire food and to 

act to get It. There may be some connection here 
with an external stimulus but the bodily condition 
is a large factor In producing the activity. 

The status of the seminal vesicles, the prostate 
gland, the distended bladder, the ovaries or the 
pituitary and thyroid glands may arouse sex ex- 
citement without the presence of the sexual ob- 
ject. Perhaps the status of the adrenals, of the 
liver, or of the thyroid may determine In part the 
threshold of the reaction to the anger stimulus. 
It is true In some cases that the bodily prepara- 
tion is such as to make the slightest of external 
stimuli capable of setting off the train of instinc- 
tive activity. In such cases, desires may be 
thought of as arising from within the body. No 
doubt the different Instinctive tendencies vary in 
their dependence on bodily status and external 

Where the variation In Internal preparation Is 
great and the dependence on bodily status is im- 
portant, any failure to find an outlet or satisfac- 
tion for such Instinctive craving would seem the 
poorer adaptation. On the other hand, If the 
dependence Is largely on the external stimuli, 
the lack of functioning of the instinct may occa- 
sion no particular distress. 

The variability in response to stimuli. The 
operation of the Instinctive equipment In any cul- 
ture depends upon the stimuli to arouse the ac- 

tivity. It should be observed that the arousing 
of an instinct is generally not confined to a par- 
ticular stimulus, but it may be made active by a 
great variety of stimuli. Observe, for instance, 
the number of situations that will arouse fear. 
The ease with which an instinct mechanism may be 
conditioned to react solely to a secondary stimu- 
lus, which in the first instance had nothing to do 
with precipitating the reaction, is testimony to the 
great abundance of stimuli to instinctive behav- 
ior. In general, then, the fact that modern civi- 
lization is different from the hunting cultures 
does not Imply necessarily that any lack of use 
of the human Instinctive equipment is due to lack 
of stimuli. There are, it is observed, variations 
in the prevalence of stimuli for a particular type 
of activity in modern culture. Thus isolation re- 
moves many stimuli, whereas we say there is a 
great deal of stimulation and temptation In a 
city. But remembering the part bodily prepara- 
tion may play In instinctive behavior, it does not 
appear probable that any lack of exercise of the 
instinctive equipment in modern culture would be • 
due to lack of stimuli, save in exceptional situa- 

What seems more probable is, not the lack of 
stimuli, but denial of the response. Instinctive 
behavior consists In the attention to the stimuli 
and also in the response in some motor reaction. 


A natural response to stimuli that arouse pug- 
nacity is fighting. The craving is not only 
aroused but there is also a satisfying of the de- 
sire. Desires may be satisfied sometimes in vari- 
ous ways and sometimes the demands are quite 
specific. An angry person gets some satisfaction 
in venting anger on various objects or persons 
rather than on the particular stimulus. Competi- 
tive games involving muscular exercise probably 
relieve somewhat the tension of anger and may 
mean also the utilization of glycogen poured 
into the blood during anger. Anxiety which con- 
tains an element of fear finds outlets in many 
different ways. The fact that neurotics express 
^anxiety in the very safest of situations is an 
indication of the ease with which an outlet is 
found. There is a great variety of outlets pos- 
sible for the instinct of curiosity. To the extent 
to which there are varieties of cultural responses 
to an instinctive tendency it is difficult to repress 
an instinct, and the lack of adaptation to culture 
due to the repression of instincts is less probable. 
Nevertheless, there is such a thing as repression 
of instinctive tendencies; there are wants that 
are not satisfied. In fact, tendencies to react 
are inhibited by thousands every day. Such re- 
pression occurs whenever we have occasion to 
show self-control, make a choice, and whenever 
we concentrate or fix our attention. These many 

instances are relatively unimportant compared to 
the repression of strong motives, however. In 
the hunting cultures, the more powerful desires 
were repressed. Wherever there is group life 
such control must indeed take place. In primi- 
tive cultures, the rigidity of custom and the 
strength of taboos Imply attempts to control the 
instincts. Outlets in particular directions are for- 
bidden. But there are no comparative censuses 
of the repression of instincts in primitive culture 
and in modern culture. 

The inhibition of natural response to stimuli. 
Another aspect of the nature of Instincts that is 
of importance for the theory we are discussing 
is what happens when the natural completion of 
an instinctive act Is prohibited, when a desire is 
aroused but not satisfied. The answer to this 
question by psychologists is not clear and posi- 
tive. On the one hand, it is argued that certainly 
in some cases nothing of particular importance 
happens. As long as the stimulus is present 
there is a tension or feeling of unrest but with 
the removal of the stimulus the mechanism ceases 
to be active. In cases of Inhibition involved in 
many minor instances of choice, or control or at- 
tention, this may be so. On the other hand. It Is 
argued that in the case of certain stronger in- 
stincts the prohibition of the accompanying motor 
reaction may leave something like a more or less 


permanent tension, permanent until some dis- 
charge occurs. Therefore repressed desires 
though forgotten live on in the mechanism and 
continue to be sources of motivation, seeking 
other outlets, continuing the feeling of unrest and 
producing nervousness. There is some evidence, 
aside from psychoanalytic sources, that certain 
activities continue even after the removal of the 
stimulus, as in the frequently cited case of the 
hunting dog that has lost the scent. Also, though 
the external stimuli may be removed there may 
still exist certain internal stimuli. In cases 
where repressed Instincts continue to be a dis- 
turbing factor, the repression of Instincts Is 
of more serious consequence than when the desire 
or activity simply ceases. 

To organize these questions that arise from 
the nature of Instinct In such way as to yield the 
answers demanded by our theory Is difficult. 
Perhaps we may find in the prevalence of func- 
tional nervous diseases Indices of the harmful 
extent to which repression of the Instincts Is 
carried In modern civilization. We shall, there- 
fore, after summarizing the argument, take up 
for consideration neurosis and psychosis. 

Summary of argument. We have In the pre^ 
ceding paragraphs formulated the problem of ad- 
justment between modern culture and human na- 
ture a? seen from the approach of social evolu- 

tion and have made some critical observations on 
this theory of adjustment. The theory may be 
summarized as follows. For hundreds of thou- 
sands of years man lived as a primitive hunter 
in a crude culture. In a few hundred years cul- 
ture has radically changed Into an elaborate civil- 
ization. But man has not changed very much 
biologically within many thousands of years. A 
radically and recently changed culture and a con- 
stant human nature would therefore seem to 
indicate a lack of adjustment between the human 
nature of the cave people and artificial civiliza- 
tion. But our general analysis indicated that so 
simple a formulation should not be taken uncrit- 

Although culture has become greatly different 
and although it is probably true that the 
original nature of man has not changed much in 
many thousands of years, it does not follow 
merely from these assumptions that there is un- 
usual lack of adaptation, for several reasons. 
In the first place it is not necessarily true that 
human nature was perfectly adjusted to the cul- 
ture of the cave people. The relatively short 
period of civilization may not be of special sig- 
nificance from the point of view of adaptation, 
because the adaptation need not be on the biolog- 
ical side alone, and because culture may be bent 
to fit human nature. The great difference be- 


tween civilization and the culture of primitive 
hunters and food gatherers may be largely ap- 
parent; a difference in appearance between two 
cultures may exist yet human nature may func- 
tion in somewhat the same manner and to the 
same degree. Furthermore, to state that human 
nature is constant or has not changed over a 
long period of time refers only to the original 
nature that is passed on by heredity. Human 
nature varies between individuals and may be 
changed greatly within a lifetime. And finally, 
although human nature, as thought of in terms 
of instinctive activities, may be somewhat im- 
perative in Its demands on culture for opportuni- 
ties of outward expression, by virtue of the part 
the internal mechanism of the organism plays 
in creating desires, it does not follow that there 
is lack of adaptation. The fact that the external 
stimuli of action are almost unlimited in number 
and the fact that cultural expression of the in- 
stincts may find so many varied outlets reduce 
somewhat the chances of lack of adaptation im- 
plied In the original statement of the theory. 

The foregoing theory of the adjustment of hu- 
man nature and civilization from purely gen- 
eral considerations hardly justifies an uncritical 
reliance upon it. There may be a good deal of 
truth In It or there may not. It is hard to prove 
either way from general considerations. The 


theory docs seem to form a very good back- 
ground to problems of human nature. But it 
is so general as to be dangerous as a social philos- 
ophy or as a working principle if applied in a 
specific case without attention to the specific prob- 
lem. It is somewhat like the principles of natu- 
ral selection, struggle for existence, and survival 
of the fittest in biology. Such principles play 
their part in evolution; but, as a general philoso- 
phy of life, it is hard to tell just how applicable 
they are in a definite instance. Any general prin- 
ciple must undergo careful consideration in any 
specific application. It seems desirable, there- 
fore, to make some observations on particular 
cases of lack of adaptation, and see whether such 
special analyses correspond to the theory. 



Evidences of lack of adaptation to environment 
on the part of physical man are found in death, 
disease, chronic fatigue, etc. Similarly we think 
evidences of lack of adjustment between culture 
and the psychological equipment of man are 
found in nervousness and insanity. Also a good 

many different social problems reveal a lack of 
harmony between psychological man and culture, 
but first we shall be concerned with neuroses 
and functional psychoses as indices of such malad- 
justment. Nervous symptoms we would natur- 
ally expect as evidence of psychological malad- 

Our inquiry is not concerned with acci- 
dental Injury to, nor with the actual organic dis- 
eases of, the central nervous system, nor with the 
hereditary mental defects popularly known as fee- 
ble-mlndedness. But after the foregoing types 
are subtracted there remain a number of kinds of 
nervous disorders such as hysteria, morbid com- 
pulsions, anxiety-neuroses, paranoia, melancholia, 
manic-depressive cases, where there may not be a 
permanent impairment of structure but where the 
difficulty seems to lie in the functioning of the 
structure. In any case, these so-called functional 
disorders appear to be occasioned or modified by 
the cultural environment and by psychological 
causes rather than, or in addition to, physical or 
physiological factors. Such an analysis does not 
necessarily rule out the hereditary factor In the 
functional disorders. In any group of persons, the 
susceptibility of inherited equipment to nervous 
disorders will vary. Tendencies or predisposi- 
tions towards nervous instability are inherited. 
But the actual development of these disorders 

will also depend upon the cultural environment. 

The nature of functional nervous disorders. 
Accepting, therefore, the point that many ner- 
vous disorders are evidences of psychological mal- 
adjustment occasioned by cultural influences op- 
erating psychologically rather than physically, we 
may next inquire into the nature of these nervous 
disorders. For our purposes it is not necessary to 
develop a systematic account of the theory of 
nervous diseases; it Is desirable to utilize only 
such considerations as throw light on the problem 
of the adjustment of human nature and culture. 

A trait common to the patients suffering from 
functional Insanity Is the strangeness of their 
mental outlook. ^ Their views of many phe- 
nomena appear unreal to the person In mental 
health. This trait is very notable in acute cases 
of neuroses and Is perhaps present to greater or 
less extent In mild neuroses. A knowledge of the 
mental content of these patients reveals the fact 
that they live mentally in an essentially unreal 
or Imaginary world. For Instance, the perse- 
cutory and grandiose conceptions of the para- 
noiac and the morbid doubts of the compulsion 
neurosis are essentially fantasies. The conditions 
and situations of life which they see appear very 
different to them from what they do to well per- 

^Bernard Hart, The Psychology of Insanity, 


Another trait that appears to be present or to 
have been present in these disorders is mental 
conflict, a fact of some significance for the theory 
under discussion. Such a mental conflict is more 
easily seen in the cases of neurotics and has been 
observed in the functional psychoses. The his- 
tory of these cases frequently reveals the onset 
of the disorder at a period of conflicting desires, 
and an analysis of the mental content shows evi- 
dences of such a conflict. Thus one may have 
very strong libidinous desires, the gratification of 
which may be incompatible with certain other de- 
sires bound up with social standards and such 
conflicting impulses may lead to mental dis- 

The trait of unreality and the trait of mental 
conflict are connected if it can be shown that one 
set of the cravings involved in the conflict finds ex- 
pression in this play of imagination which makes 
the conceptions of unreality. It is true that the 
imaginative world is frequently so constructed as 
to furnish a partial fulfillment of desires involved 
in the conflict. Thus the unreal world of the 
neurotics becomes intelligible, especially, if we ad- 
mit the use of a number of mental devices such 
as symbolism, rationalization, projection, compen- 
sation, displacement and various other distortion 
mechanisms. It would take us too far afield here 
to describe these mental traits, Descriptions 


may be found, however, in a number of books. ^ 
It Is indeed quite conceivable that the world of 
the insane is the mental expression of the crav- 
ings involved in mental conflicts. 

Factors in mental conflict. Our Interest lies 
chiefly in the nature of these conflicts. What 
are the desires that are found in conflict In the 
functional nervous diseases? What instincts arc 
involved? Can these conflicts be seen in terms 
of the original nature of man and culture? In 
the cases that Freud has studied he finds one ele- 
ment In the conflict practically always to be the 
sex desires. ^ Sex, however. Is conceived by 
Freud to be a force, much more complex and 
given a much wider meaning than Is understood 
by the average man; for Instance, he designates 
as sex many manifestations of affection. He also 
sees sex closely bound up with fear, anger, dis- 
play, art, religion, and various Instinctive ten- 
dencies. Jung along with Freud calls one ele- 
ment In his conflict the libido, but Jung defines 
the libido as much more comprehensive even than 
Freud's sex. * It seems to be somewhat similar 
to what is ordinarily called the soul or spirit 
of man, a sort of life force. Adler sees the 
conflict as arising from the constitutional limlta- 

2 Bernard Hart, Psychology of Insanity. H. W. Frink, 
Morbid Fears and Compulsions. 

' Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. 
•* Carl G. Jung, Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology, 


tlons and defects of man's equipment along vari- 
ous lines and attempts to compensate psychologi- 
cally for these defects as they are related to the 
various desires of life. ^ Hart, Rivers and vari- 
ous other writers think that sex has been stressed 
too much as a factor in the conflict or else that 
further research will show other instincts than 
sex as strong factors in the conflict. ^ Kempfs 
theory is that a conflict exists between the crav- 
ing of various autonomic segments. Such a con- 
flict results when access to the projicient motor 
apparatus is denied one portion of the stimulated 
autonomic apparatus by various other integrated 
parts of the autonomic system that dominate the 
neural paths. "^ We do not know just what the 
relationship is between the stimulation of the 
autonomic functions and the arousing of the in- 
stincts. The behavior that we call insane occurs 
when some autonomic segment hitherto prevented 
from access to certain nerve paths gets a control 
over the projicient motor apparatus. Kempf s 
theory of the autonomic functions is not appar- 
ently incompatible with the account of the in- 
stincts previously set forth. 

The forces in the conflict most frequently dis- 
cussed by the authors just mentioned are in the 

5 Alfred Adler, The Neurotic Constitution. 
« Bernard Hart, The Psychology of Insanity. W. H. R. 
Rivers, Instinct and the Unconscious. 
^ Edward J. Kempf, Psychopathology, 


nature of individual cravings and impulses, while 
the other factors In the conflict opposed to these 
cravings are forces that are like the desires to 
conform to social codes, seldom discussed by psy- 
chopathologlsts. These social forces in the con- 
flict are quite important from the standpoint of 
culture, and we wish now to inquire into their 
nature. Freud speaks of the force opposing the 
sex as a censor. The censorship operates, to 
make us conform to social standards. Kempf 
thinks of the cravings of an autonomic segment 
as being opposed by an Integration of other auto- 
nomic segments that have a more complete con- 
trol over the cerebro-splnal paths. These inte- 
grated autonomic segments slowly built up, 
he thinks, are the sources of one's personal- 
ity, one's self that functions as an accepted 
social being. So it would seem that the op- 
posing forces are certain tendencies that mo- 
tivate social behavior, that respect and conform 
to social codes and moral standards. These ten- 
dencies may of course have certain springs of 
action in the gregarious Instinct, in sociability or 
in the instinct of self-assertion. We do not know 
what the Instinctive or mechanistic basis may be, 
but certainly they are the forces that make us con- 
form to group life, that make us sensitive to 
the opinions of others. It follows, therefore, 
that the nature of social codes and group stand- 


ards gives the particularistic direction to these 
forces. Just what accepted conduct is, cultural 
standards play a part in determining. So in a 
sense culture seems to be in part lined up against 
certain cravings that are rather close to what is 
thought of as original nature. 

Comparison of the theory of original nature 
and culture and the theory of neuroses. The 
theory of neuroses that we have been discussing 
does seem to be in conformity with, and even 
supplements, the theory that artificial civilization 
produces maladjustments with the original na- 
ture of man. The theory of the primitive hunter 
in the modern factory sets forth the argument 
that the psychological equipment of man in the 
hunting cultures functioned fairly well, but that in 
modern factory life it is only partially used, re- 
sulting in overuse of some parts of the equipment 
and under-use of other parts, occasioning malad- 
justment. The theory of the neuroses we have 
discussed shows the great prevalence in neuroses 
of mental conflict between certain instinctive crav- 
ings strongly suggestive of original nature and 
forces that strive to conform to cultural stand- 
ards. As far as I know these two theories have 
not been systematically compared, although Freud 
strongly suggests various implications of this na- 
ture in his Reflections on War and Death, and 
superficial connections have been obvious to sev- 

cral writers. To compare these two theories 
more fully necessitates a more detailed considera- 
tion of theories of the neuroses; and as one In- 
quires into the details of the etiology of neuroses, 
the writers break up into rival groups with the 
claims of no one group substantiated. 

There are, however, a good many who would 
agree that in so far as psychoneuroses and func- 
tional psychoses are not hereditary the founda- 
tions for them are frequently laid by the environ- 
mental influences affecting the life of the child and 
the infant. That the influences of childhood are 
powerful in shaping the adult should not appear 
strange; but ordinarily the full significance of in- 
fluences at this time is not appreciated by adults 
and certainly not to the extent that some students 
of neuroses demand for them. The parents are 
agents that are particularly powerful in influenc- 
ing the child; and probably the medium of their 
great influence is affection. According to Freud's 
theory the foundations are laid for future neu- 
roses in childhood, although the precipitating 
agencies may be the strains occurring in adult life. 

Closer analysis of the causes of neuroses shows 
that the sex instincts seem most frequently in- 
volved. According to Freud's evidence, at 
least, it Is not the repression of the instincts in 
general or of any particular part of the original 
nature of man that is found in the etiology of 

neuroses, but quite specifically the repression of 
the sex Instinct. For instance, Freud has some- 
where said that whenever the sex life Is func- 
tioning normally there is never a neurosis, or 
words to this effect, although he does not claim 
that when the sex instinct Is not functioning nor- 
mally there is necessarily a neurosis. There may 
be, however, some question as to just what the 
normal functioning of sex is. But the derange- 
ment that is claimed to occur in certain cases 
of conflict involving the sex motives does not fol- 
low, as would ordinarily be thought, because of 
sexual continence or particularly because of the 
failure to gratify the sexual desires with reference 
to the sexual object. The situation is much more 
complicated; there are various outlets to sex, 
and, strange to say, the trouble is frequently 
traced back to the sex life of childhood. While 
it is true that psychoanalytic evidence stresses 
the repression of only one part of man's psycho- 
logical equipment, sex, nevertheless there seems 
to be a very close relationship of sex to such na- 
tive tendencies as self-assertion, anger, fear, and 
various other motives. Other researches may 
show lack of adjustment of other instincts than 
sex. It is also to be remembered, that even If 
the non-hereditary influences that lay the founda- 
tion for neuroses, are effective in childhood, nev- 
ertheless the precipitating factors in adult life 

commonly associated with emotional shock, 
strain, overwork, etc., may involve a repression 
of various other parts of man's psychological 

The cultural influences of child life. Another 
interest in comparing these two theories is to in- 
quire what are the cultural conditions that make 
neuroses. Are the conditions found in the simp- 
ler cultures of the hunting peoples as likely to 
develop neuroses and psychoses as the modern so- 
cial conditions? Unfortunately the psychopath- 
ologlsts do not answer these questions. There 
is still controversy as to the causes of mental dis- 
ease. Psychopathologlsts are concerned as prac- 
ticing physicians with helping the Individual and 
not in altering the social system. There has been 
little development of preventive medicine in the 
field of mental disease. So it is naturally difficult 
to describe the cultural conditions that favor 
these disorders. From the foregoing analyses it 
would appear that the cultural conditions affect- 
ing neuroses are of two sorts. One is the con- 
ditions influencing early child life and supposedly 
laying the basis of any future nervous trouble 
that may develop. The other is the Immediate 
specific situations that precipitate the outbreak of 
the disorders. 

In regard to the conditions affecting child life, 
the theories are somewhat elaborate and by no 

means generally accepted or proved. These 
theories are set forth in the literature previously 
cited. In general they concern misdirected pa- 
rental affection, including the much discussed GEdi- 
pus complex, lack of harmony in the family life 
of parents, bad personal habits in connection with 
the various openings to the body, the so-called 
erogenous zones, the lack of information or bad 
education in matters of sex, the over-accentuation 
of prudery, shame and disgust. It is also conceiv- 
able that such physical conditions as poverty, 
overcrowding, bad housing, school systems and 
general neglect of children may be factors. 
Some of these influences may appear to be prev- 
alent in modern social conditions, but there 
Seems to be no reason why many of them might 
not be found surrounding the child life in the 
hunting cultures. These factors do not seem to 
be correlated with the broad classifications of 
economic cultures, such as the hoe cultures, the 
domestication of cattle, land economy, the handi- 
crafts or machine industry. It is possible that 
with some kinds of family life in modern times 
children may be thus adversely affected, but such 
'conditions do not appear to be a necessary part 
of such great characteristics of modern civiliza- 
tion as the great increase in material culture and 
the adjustment thereto. About the life of chil- 
dren in the primitive cultures our knowledge is 

meagre, but the affection of parents and adults for 
children is frequently commented upon by the 
traveler, the missionary and the ethnologist. 
The period of nursing is usually long. Sex is 
taken more as a matter of course, and less at- 
tended by shame and prudery. 

The cultural influences of adult life. Regard- 
ing the precipitation of neuroses and psychoses in 
adult life, it is commonly admitted that events 
and conditions of adult life play their part in 
causing functional nervous diseases, even grant- 
ing that the groundwork may be found in hered- 
ity and early child life. That especial condi- 
tions surrounding adult life can bring on neuroses 
is seen from the great number of mental disorders 
that were brought on by the soldier's life. These 
cases were at first called shell shock, but were 
later shown to be functional nervous disorders, 
in which, by the way, the sex element is said to be 
not so obvious nor so impressive. 

Another indication that cultural conditions are 
correlated with the frequency of mental disorders 
is seen from the fact that such frequencies are 
greater in urban than in rural districts. For in- 
stance, the rejections of drafted men with nervous 
diseases for military service in the recent 
war were greater for men from the urban dis- 
tricts as the following ratios show. The ra- 
tios are the percentages of rejections in rural 

districts divided by the percentages of rejections 
in urban districts, so that a ratio less than i indi- 
cates a greater prevalence in urban districts. 
Hysteria, 1.44; psychoses, i.oo; psychoneuroses, 
0.95; constitutional psychopathic states, 0.81; 
neurasthenia, 0.81; dementia praecox, 0.76; gen- 
eral paralysis of the insane, 0.67. ^ The differ- 
ences are even greater when the larger cities are 
compared. It should be remembered that much 
of the urban area consists of small towns and 
also that the population of cities is built up re- 
cently In part by migrations of adults from rural 

Evidence leading to the same general con- 
clusion Is presented In a survey of first ad- 
missions to hospitals for the insane in nine States 
of the United States in 19 19 as shown in the fol- 
lowing table. * 

Rates of First Admissions from Urban and Rural 

Rates per 100,000 of population 
of same environment 

Urban Rural 
Senile , 7.2 5.4 

With cerebral arteriosclerosis 3.3 1.4 

8 Love and Davenport, Defects in Drafted Men, pp. 351-2. 

9 Pollock and Furbush, "Mental Diseases in Twelve States, 
1919," Mental Hygiene, Vol. V, April, 1921, No. 2, pp. 353-389. 

Rates per 160,000 of population 
of same environment 

Urban Rural 

General paralysis 8.6 2.0 

Alcoholic 2.8 0.6 

Manic-depressive 10.5 6.8 

Dementia praecox 19.4 9.5 

All psychoses 68.2 36.0 

One wonders whether the work in modern fac- 
tories and mills brings on mental disorders. 
Long hours of monotonous work is the situation 
where one expects only a partial use of the psy- 
chological equipment. Numbers of psychopaths 
have been enumerated in industry but it is proba- 
ble a number of such cases would be found in 
any random sample of the population. Of the 
rejections of drafted men, the eastern manufac- 
turing sections showed high proportions of cases 
of neurasthenia, hysteria, neurosis, dementia prae- 
cox, psychasthenia and psychoneuroses, but there 
were other classes of mental disorders in not such 
high proportions. In such a classification there 
are other factors than occupations, that make 
comparisons not very trustworthy. If labor in 
factories and mills was a factor in producing such 
disorders, it would be expected that there would 
be greater proportions among men than among 
women, since there are much larger numbers of 
men working in industry than women, but the sex 


differences in total mental disorders as seen in 
hospital records are not great. 

It is customary to think of strain as a condi- 
tion favorable to the development of nervous 
breakdown. But one wonders what strain is in 
psychological terms. Is it due to overwork and 
does it imply the overuse of some instincts and 
the under-use of others? Is it due to the great 
stimulation of ambition to utilize the opportuni- 
ties occurring in a competitive environment and 
in a changing culture? Is it the long-continued 
application to a single task? Or is it due to the 
restrictions and impositions of moral conduct In a 
stimulating atmosphere ? Perhaps the strain ari- 
ses from some crisis involving the affections? 

Mental disease in primitive life. In regard to 
conditions affecting psychoses and neuroses among 
people living in simple cultures, we do not have 
much Information. Cases of hysteria, insanity 
and homosexuality have been observed among 
these peoples, but we do not know in what pro- 
portions. The psychopathologists have not in- 
vestigated cases among the primitive cultures, 
and the anthropologists are not psychopatholo- 
gists. Freud, however, has a theoretical trea- 
tise, Totem and Taboo, dealing with primitive 
culture. One thinks from reading this book that 
Freud considers the various factors which he 
finds operating in neurotics also present among 

primitive peoples. That customs, taboos, exten- 
sive marriage regulations, do impose considerable 
restriction on the desires of peoples in the sim- 
pler cultures is certain. In fact, a familiarity with 
the different customs of primitive cultures im- 
presses one with the remarkable adaptability of 
human nature to restrictions on conduct. In his 
Totem and Taboo, Freud tries to explain such 
primitive institutions as animism and exogamy 
in terms of the mechanisms operating In the neu- 
rosis. Even though strong repressions and mo- 
tives interrelated as in neuroses are found among 
peoples with primitive cultures, it does not follow 
that they will work out into functional nervous 
disorders. These mental diseases are, it is gen- 
erally admitted, frequently a matter of degree. 
That is, the types of conduct of the psycholog- 
ically Insane are also present in the so-called nor- 
mal individual only to a less degree. There are 
also various outlets for the energies Involved in 
mental conflict. The peoples with primitive cul- 
tures sometimes socialize tendencies that would be 
repressed In modern societies. Thus the sha- 
mans, the religious leaders among the American 
Indians, are in some tribes selected, for instance, 
because of the ability to experience hallucinations 
and because of their queer behavior. 

Mental diseases in modern life. That nervous 
disorders exist in modern socle^' to-day in large 

numbers is a fact. The third census of the Na- 
tional Committee for Mental Hygiene shows that 
on January i, 1920, in the hospitals In the United 
States the number of patients with mental dis- 
eases was about i to every 450 of the popula- 
tion. ^^ There are numbers of insane not in 
hospitals, as the States do not make adequate 
preparation for their care. New York and Mas- 
sachusetts are foremost in the provision for their 
insane. In these two States there is one patient 
with mental disease In an institution for about 
every 275 of the general population. We do not 
know, unfortunately, how many of these patients 
are suffering from functional disorders. 

The number of first admissions per year shows 
somewhat better the incidence of insanity than 
do figures showing the number in institutions at 
any one time. A survey of mental diseases In 
twelve States with a total population of about 
twenty-five million showed that there were 63.8 
first admissions to institutions caring for mental 
disease to every 100,000 of the general popu- 
lation.^^ In other words, every year i in every 
1600 is admitted to an institution for mental dls- 

10 Pollock and Furbush, "Patients with Mental Diseases, 
Mental Defect, Epilepsy, Alcoholism and Drug Addiction in 
Institutions in the United States, January i, 1920," Mental 
Hygiene, Vol. V, No. i, pp. 139-169. 

"Pollock and Furbush, "Mental Diseases in Twelrc Statet, 
1919," Mental Hygiene, Vol. V, No. 2, pp. 353-389- 


ease. But this rate Is only for one year, whereas 
men and women in^'the United States live, on the 
average, about forty years. The average age 
at death in the United States in 19 13 was 39.8 
years. ^^ Over a period of 40 years the number 
of first admissions would be about i to every 40 
of the general population at any one year, on the 
basis of a constant population. These figures 
for first admissions include all types of mental 
disease, the organic and other classifications as 
well as the functional. 

It would be important if we knew whether in- 
sanity were increasing or not. The number of 
patients with mental diseases In institutions In 
the United States has Increased 469 per cent 
from 1880 to 1920, while the total population of 
the United States has increased only iii per 
cent; but these figures may mean only that an 
Increasing proportion of the Insane are being 
cared for in Institutions.^^ 

Against the figures of the frequency of patients 
In Institutions for the care of mental disease 
should be set the fact that not all cases are found 
In Institutions. Also these figures include only 
a very small percentage of the neuroses. The 

^^ Mortality StatisticSy 1913, Department of Commerce, 
Bureau of Census. 
^*0p. cit.. Mental Hygiene, Vol. V, No. i, pp. 139-169. 


number of cases of mild and acute neuroses must 
indeed be much larger. Neuroses occasion just 
as acute suffering if not more than do the 
various physical illnesses. Very probably the 
thing we call happiness is related to the state of 
the nerves more than to economic conditions or 
to material welfare. However closely paral- 
leled the theory of the neuroses may be with the 
theory of original human nature and the artifici- 
ality of civilization, and however true an index 
nervous and mental disorders may be as a meas- 
ure of lack of adjustment between culture and the 
original psychological nature of man, it is cer- 
tainly true that neuroses and psychoses are se- 
rious social problems in modern society. 


So far the evidence we have considered, of 
lack of adjustment between human nature and 
culture, has been the effects of a psychological 
nature on the individual, as neuroses and psy- 
choses. But evidence may also be sought on the 
side of culture as well as on the side of the indi- 

Vidual. Such evidence is found in social problems 
rather than individual problems, although such a 
line of demarcation is not clear-cut. 

The current literature dealing with social prob- 
lems is full of material concerning the behavior 
of human nature; and as the reader is familiar 
with modern social issues it will not be necessary 
to set forth many illustrations. Only a few such 
problems will be discussed and then only as types 
of analysis. Such a presentation can be made 
much more briefly than in the case of the neuroses. 

Crime. A conspicuous instance of such a social 
problem showing evidence of lack of adjustment 
between human nature and culture is crime. 
Some crime is due to feeble-mindedness and to in- 
sanity, but a good deal of crime is due to social 
and economic conditions. For instance, social 
conditions may become so rigorous in their imposi- 
tions or effects upon human nature that behavior 
we call crime will be resorted to. Under condi- 
tions of food shortage, looting may result. Slaves 
frequently steal. In periods of economic depres- 
sion there is more temptation to violate laws re- 
garding property. The amount of crime, partic- 
ularly against property, fluctuates with social and 
economic conditions, and such a fluctuation is 
thought to occur in lesser degree in crimes against 
the person, such as murder, assault, and sexual 


In other words, the motives of the crime 
might not have caused crime if operating at an- 
other time or in another culture. Considered 
apart from the social consequences, such motives 
might have been quite normal biological desires. 
The cultural situation may be so framed that it 
becomes very difficult for the human desires to 
find satisfaction. A very good illustration is the 
increase in juvenile crimes that bring children 
before the juvenile courts in our cities. In the 
rural districts, the same motives found in the city 
juvenile delinquent might in many cases function 
without causing crime. The interests of the 
group must be protected, of course, against crime, 
and crime may be unjustifiable on moral grounds, 
but nevertheless the culture determines rules, the 
breaking of which is called crime. Crime is 
clearly evidence of lack of adjustment between 
human nature and culture. 

Sex problems. Another illustration of such 
lack of satisfactory adjustment is sex problems. 
Adultery, prostitution and all sexual intercourse 
out of wedlock are seen as social problems, as is 
also divorce with the break which it causes in so 
important a social organization as the family. 
In these cases culture imposes a code in accord- 
ance with which human beings with strong desires 
often find it difficult to act. Even when there is 
conformity to the marriage code and when dj- 

vorces are not granted, there may still be much 
unhapplness, a sign of unsatisfactory adjustment. 
The conflict of sex codes and human nature Is a 
widespread and frequent cause of unhapplness. 
Sex, strong and variable, meets with difliculty In 
making adjustment to any rigid sex code, however 
moral It may be. 

Selfishness. Perhaps the psychological factor 
underlying the largest number of social problems 
is selfishness. The fact that a great majority 
of Individuals in most of the situations of life feel 
their own interests more strongly than the in- 
terests of others and act accordingly Is funda- 
mental In nearly all social problems. A large 
number of modern social problems flow from the 
unequal distribution of property; one reason 
why wealth Is so unequally accumulated is the pur- 
suit of one's selfish interests with not enough con- 
siderations for the Interests of others, and an- 
other reason is the scarcity of social limitations 
upon such selfish actions. More or less unre- 
stricted freedom to accumulate wealth may be 
legitimate, and culture may have grown more 
thereby; nevertheless a whole host of social prob- 
lems follow because of this unequal distribution of 
Income. Inequality in the distribution of wealth 
will be found a very significant factor in poverty, 
unemployment, disease, taxation, labor, govern- 
inent, war, and many other problems. If wc 

were less selfish or more considerate, in some 
effective social manner, of the interests of others, 
many of our present-day social problems would 
be minor ones. A highly developed accumula- 
tion of material culture such as we have in modern 
society provides a wonderful opportunity for an 
apparently ruthless exploitation of selfish in- 
terests. In other words, the fundamental self- 
interest of our natures when functioning in a 
great wealth of material culture undergoing 
rapid change creates social problems in abundance 
which are evidence of a bad adjustment. 

Many other social problems that show human 
nature and culture in a not altogether satisfac- 
tory adjustment might be cited. In fact, human 
nature is really a factor in all social problems, in 
the sense that if our human nature were different 
the social problems would either not exist or else 
would be different, because all social phenomena 
involve the two factors, human nature and culture. 
We are not in this paragraph concerned with 
whether these problems are due to the biological 
factor or to culture, but are interested in showing 
that social problems are indices of maladjustment. 
Social problems as well as neuroses, then, furnish 
evidence of lack of adaptation between human 
nature and culture. 



So far we have shown that the adjustment be- 
tween culture and human nature is not as satisfac- 
tory as is desired; and we have seen something of 
the theories as to why there is this lack of adjust- 
ment. To readers living in an age of so much 
social effort for improvement, the question natur- 
ally arises as to what can be done to bring about 
a better adjustment. This question, though 
stated in very large terms, seems appropriate, par- 
ticularly since an effort to apply scientific methods 
to social questions is being made. Though we 
may not be able to answer definitely and scien- 
tifically the question of how best to adjust human 
nature and culture, yet some consideration of this 
question may be of value. To many, so general 
and simple a statement as the problem of adjust- 
ment between human nature and culture may be 
objectionable, since it may appear best to consider 
a series of special situations in detail. The value 
of such special studies of adjustment is realized 
and many excellent studies have been made and 
arc being made. It is realized that not only is a 


good deal lost In attempting to make a general 
formulation, but generalizations are difficult to 
substantiate. Nevertheless there is a certain 
value In trying to look at the question In Its broad- 
est aspects. 

Changing human nature. A harmonious re- 
lationship between culture and human nature 
may conceivably be attained by making the adap- 
tations largely on the part of human nature or 
largely on the part of culture, or some adjust- 
ments on the part of both human nature and cul- 
ture. We shall consider first the problem of 
changing human nature to fit the culture, the way 
the problem has been viewed, to a large extent, In 
the past, particularly from the point of view of 
religion and of morals. Such a method of adjust- 
ment seemed reasonable in the past when cultural 
growth was slow; not many changes occurred 
within a period of time so short as a few genera- 
tions. To man with limitations to his knowledge 
t)f the past, culture appeared somewhat stationary. 
On the other hand, the adaptability of human na- 
ture through habit and will power appeared as a 
fact. The bad adaptations were labelled as evil 
and the approved adaptations were called good. 
And the problem of adaptation was to seek the 
good and eschew the evil. Such a method of con- 
trolling or modifying human nature within a life- 
time has been of great practical value. 

Changing the hereditary basis of human na- 
ture. With the rise of the science of biology a 
good deal of emphasis was placed upon the pro- 
cess of biological adaptation. The changing of 
species was seen in terms of adaptation to environ- 
ment. Those organisms not adapted, unfit to 
survive in the struggle for existence, died. The 
changing that was done in order to establish adap- 
tation was on the side of the organism rather 
than environment. That is, nature did not bend 
the environment to fit the organism. Casual 
readers of biology, therefore, have naturally 
thought of the problem of adapting man to en- 
vironment a good deal In terms of changing man. 
The programme of eugenics is a programme 
which attempts to achieve desirable changes In 
biological man. But with the passing of the 
theory of the Inheritance of acquired characteris- 
tics and the appreciation of the Infrequency of mu- 
tations, the process of biological change for pur- 
poses of adaptation to culture is seen to be very 
slow. This point is of considerable importance 
because It emphasizes a stable biological nature. 
Of course selection may be made within the limits 
of variation, and some better adaptation may 
thereby be achieved. In so far as those at one end 
of the curve are better adapted than those at the 
other end. Such a selective process Is difficult to 


realize practically. Careful readers of biology, 
therefore, realize that any Idea of changing the 
biological nature of man Is a very ambitious one, 
and are Impressed with the slowness of biological 
change. We do not know what the researches of 
biology may discover, but at present the knowl- 
edge necessary for the control desired In eugenics 
is meagre. Practically, therefore, a rapid, con- 
trolled change in the Inherited biological nature 
of man seems almost impossible for the pres- 

Changing human nature for a lifetime. This 
conclusion does not mean that the inherited na- 
ture of man may not be highly adaptable within a 
lifetime. In fact, a great variety of adaptations 
have been made this way in the past, and such has 
been the approved programme of statecraft, reli- 
gion and morals, and justified to a great extent 
by experience. But with the rise of abnormal 
psychology some skepticism arises in regard to a 
whole-hearted approval of this method of adjust- 
ment. The point of the difficulty lies In the fact 
that a good deal of the bending of human nature 
to fit the cultural environment means a repression 
of quite normal biological processes and denial in 
many cases of the normal expression of some in- 
stinctive tendencies. This repression, in some 
cases, as was observed in the etiology of neuroses, 

causes strain, unhappiness, mental conflict and neu- 

It is difficult to generalize as to the extent 
of such harmful repression as a method of adap- 
tation, and such an estimate involves, as was 
pointed out, more knowledge as to the extent and 
causes of neuroses than we now have. But for 
those whose programme calls for a bending of 
human nature to fit the culture, it should be recog- 
nized that the lesson of recent researches in ab- 
normal psychology indicates that there are limits 
to which human nature may be bent in the process 
of adjustment to social conditions. But the goal 
of those seeking adjustments between culture and 
human nature is not only to avoid the danger lim- 
its, but to seek the best possible adjustments. For 
such a goal, it is not possible to indicate how 
much or how little repression is desired or what 
the nature of such repression should be. These 
points should be taken up in detail. Of course, 
the practical and psychological value of self-con- 
trol is appreciated. There must be a very large 
amount of such repression each day. The point 
is that in such repression one should endeavor to 
avoid the kind that leads to serious mental con- 

Changing culture. When it is realized that 
there is slight prospect of changing the hereditary 
traits of biological man to fit culture, and when 

it is seen that it is not the happiest solution to 
bend human nature far within a lifetime, in making 
adjustments to culture, we naturally turn to the 
attractive idea of modifying culture to fit human 
nature. This theme has been very interestingly 
presented by Graham Wallas in his The Great So- 
ciety, He there discusses the unsatisfactoriness 
of the "balked" instinct and suggests a way out 
through changes in the social environment. Such 
a possibility will occur to one when the vast 
amount of cultural change that is taking place to- 
day is observed in comparison with the great sta- 
bility of biological man. It is the stream of cul- 
ture that is undergoing rapid change and not the 
biological stock. Therefore why attempt to 
change the biological stock to fit culture? Why 
not direct the changes that are occurring in culture 
to fit man, and so reach a better adjustment? 
The fact that such a plan will be welcomed emo- 
tionally by most of us who have felt the annoy- 
ance of unsatisfied desires, should put us on guard 
against uncritically putting our faith in such a 

While it is true that the changes occurring to- 
day are preponderantly In the culture rather than 
in biological man, it does not follow that these 
cultural changes are controlled and purposively di- 
rected by man. Despite the fact that man ap- 
pears as an active agent in these changes, cul- 


tural factors such as social forces and economic 
processes play quite a determining part in these 
changes. It is not true that man creates culture 
freely as he wills. The extent to which man is 
a freely determining agent in directing social evo- 
lution is one of the fundamental questions in so- 
ciology. This question is very similar to the old 
philosophical and psychological question of free- 
dom of the will. It is also at the root of the 
question of the influence of the great man in his- 
tory. An understanding of this problem of free- 
dom and power of the will and of social deter- 
minism in cultural change is of far-reaching sig- 
nificance, extending beyond the purpose for which 
we are now considering it. But we must not 
omit some important observations which will 
throw a good deal of light on it. 

Social forces. The material presented in the 
previous sections shows that culture grows be- 
cause of purely cultural factors, despite the fact 
that this growth occurs through the medium of 
human beings. Thus the nature of the inventions 
that will be made depends in large part upon the 
existing plane of culture, and there is a relation- 
ship between the number of inventions and the 
amount of the existing material culture out of 
which to make the inventions. In other words, 
the nature of the growth of culture depends upon 
past development and accumulations. Cultural 

growth and change In a particular locality result 
from adopting elements from other cultures as 
a result of contacts. If a culture is isolated 
changes take place very slowly indeed. But if 
lines of communication are opened between a 
hitherto isolated culture and various other differ- 
ent cultures, changes will occur because of cultural 
diffusion. In other words, by taking thought or 
through the power of the will, man in isolated cul- 
tures does not produce the changes that come 
through cultural processes like diffusion. The 
growth of culture within a particular locality is 
to a much less degree due to inventions within 
that locality than to diffusions from other cul- 

The deterministic nature of cultural change. 
Also, there is a good deal of evidence to indicate 
that the accumulation or growth of culture 
reaches a stage where certain inventions if not 
inevitable are certainly to a high degree proba- 
ble, given a certain level of mental ability. The 
fact that an invention is independently made in 
several localities suggests such a cultural prepara- 
tion. This probability of an invention due to cul- 
tural preparations is more noticeable perhaps in 
later cultures than in earlier cultures. In earlier 
cultures the accidental element may have been 
more frequent. Observation of such processes 
diminishes somewhat one's faith in man's ability 

to create or change culture howsoever he wills. 

The unpredictable social effects of inventions. 
Furthermore, it should be remembered, that al- 
though man may invent because of purpose or de- 
sires or will, the cultural effects of such changes 
thus started are far more than can be seen at 
the time of the invention. The consequences of 
some inventions cannot be foreseen, much less 
controlled. In fact a good many inventions in 
the material culture, instead of being purposively 
directed for control of culture, rather introduce 
a good many new problems of control. This is 
especially true of certain very important changes 
such as the domestication of cattle, the use of the 
plow, or the use of steam. In fact, recently so 
many and such significant changes have been oc- 
curring In the material culture, that man appears 
hard put to It to keep up with the changes, 
rather than appearing in the supreme role of 
planning, controlling and directing them. 

The great man and social change. It is un- 
derstandable how the social or cultural forces as 
causes of changes are obscured and how they are 
seen In terms of man's ability, will, and purpose. 
In the first place, man always appears as an active 
agent In any social change, in the sense that none 
of these changes could take place without man. 
The invention, however inevitable. Is made by man 
and social movements proceed through the instru- 

mentality of leaders. Human nature with its in- 
terest in personalities, its hero-worshipping ten- 
dencies, its appreciation of leadership, is more 
interested in giving recognition of achievement 
to a human being than to some abstract concep- 
tion of some social force. Besides, these social 
forces are not easily seen nor their nature readily 
known. James J. Hill is given due credit for 
having built the Great Northern and the North- 
ern Pacific railroads. But if James J. Hill had 
never lived the railroad lines would have been 
built across this great northwestern area to the 
Pacific Ocean. The fact that Hill built the rail- 
roads meant a great deal to a particular financial 
group; and the particular great man is often of 
utmost significance to a particular social, econo- 
mic or political group in the competition for con- 
trol and rewards. Perhaps the great man is a 
more decisive factor in political groups, in setting 
national boundary lines, in war, or in other forms 
of culture such as art or religion, than in material 
culture. To the extent that social forces are 
causes of development rather than leaders and 
great men, to that extent will it be difficult to 
modify the culture of the future for the purpose 
of making it better adapted to human nature. 

Regarding the relative influence of the great 
man and of social forces, which it is difficult to 
measure and in the absence of data is so much a 
[345] ^ 

matter of interpretation, there is always a strong 
subjective element In one's attitude. Thus men of 
great self-assertlveness, of potency, of great hope 
and faith, active In effort and eager for achieve- 
ment, probably have a strong subjective bias In 
giving recognition to men's power over culture. 
Such subjective elements are sure to distort the 
truth until the facts to prove the case one way or 
another are known. There has been enough dis- 
cussion to show that the difficulties of controlling 
the cultural stream or directing its course accord- 
ing to our will are very easy to underestimate. 
In fact. If the analysis be true, it appears like a 
grandiose dream to think of controlling according 
to the will of man the course of social evolution. 
Our conclusions indicate Indeed that to change 
man to fit culture or to change culture to fit man is 
each so difficult a task as to be almost Impossible. 



While It does seem true at the present stage of de- 
velopment of man and of culture that it is futile 
to think of man's ability freely to control cultural 
changes as he wills, still It is thinkable that a 
more harmonious adaptation of culture to man 


may be made without any such deity-llke power 
over culture as a whole. In other words, to make 
a more desirable adjustment, It Is not necessary to 
"have all power or even to make wholesale changes 
In culture. Indeed It Is conceivable that by mak- 
ing certain changes In culture, relatively minor 
compared to the plan of directing culture as a 
whole, a more harmonious adjustment may be 
attained. For Instance, the acuteness of the lack 
of adjustment between culture and human nature 
Is manifested In certain spots or areas like neu- 
roses and social problems. To bring about bet- 
ter adjustment the attention should be focused 
chiefly on the particular fields where the malad- 
justment Is most serious. The achievement of 
better adaptation even In such problems may be 
very difficult to make. Yet such a programme 
would appear to be much more practicable than 
the larger plan of directing the course of civiliza- 
tion. In the growth of culture there are probably 
limits to the lack of harmony with human nature, 
since in adopting new cultural forms human de- 
sires play some part. The bringing about of a 
more harmonious relationship, then, concerns cer- 
tain special fields rather than culture or human 
nature as a whole. 

This Part is not concerned primarily with 
amelioration. There are readers who are fired 
with so great a zeal for making the world more 

livable that plans of change for the better arc to 
them the only things worth while. Such an atti- 
tude cannot be praised too highly. These Indi- 
viduals furnish the drive that results in making 
the world a better place to live in. Such readers 
will feel the inadequacy of the space given to con- 
structive plans and the fragmentary nature of 
what are merely suggestions for better adjust- 
ment. In answer It may be said that there is a 
value to preliminary analysis, which characterizes 
the present and the preceding chapters. Plans 
may be worked out more fully after certain funda- 
mentals are clear. Furthermore, there are a 
great number of individuals doing most excellent 
work on important practical programmes. It is 
because there is so much constructive work done 
on practical programmes that the following sug- 
gestions are made less extensive and with less re- 
gard for emphasis and relative Importance. 

Nervous disorders. In so far as psychoses and 
neuroses are evidences of lack of adaptation, at- 
tention should be concentrated on preventing these 
functional nervous disorders. A very Important 
group of psychopathologlsts claim that neuroses 
have a sexual origin and that disturbances of a 
somewhat sexual nature are found in psychoses. 
If the sexual theories of many mental and nervous 
disorders should prove true, then the problem of 
better adaptation would concern primarily the 


adjustment In regard to this complex sex instinct. 
It is not certain now just how this could be done. 
It might concern a more intelligent expression of 
parental affection. It might involve a wiser sex- 
ual education, particularly in very early life. Or 
it might Involve certain changes in the general so- 
cial attitude towards sex. Such social pro- 
grammes would be more or less difficult to attain. 
In some cases serious mental conflicts are, it 
seems, impossible to prevent. Some form of 
therapeutic or prophylactic treatment might be 
devised so as to be widely accessible. 

Sublimation. Some attention has been paid to 
a process known as sublimation as a happy solu- 
tion of the sexual situation. There is a good 
deal of lack of agreement as to what the process 
is and some psychologists deny that there is such 
a phenomenon. Since there Is so little agreement 
as to what sublimation is, we might be pardoned 
for passing it by. But if there is such a process 
its importance is quite great and some comment is 
desirable. According to most writers on sublima- 
tion the energy of the libido can be drawn into 
channels other than customary sexual channels. 
Thus the libido may be turned to social, religious, 
artistic or scientific aims. One would therefore 
expect better adjustments to be made by a general 
development of social, religious, artistic or scien- 
tific aspects of culture. There is some evidence 

to indicate that if this sublimation of the sex in- 
stinct occurs it takes place chiefly in very early 
life. Much sublimation in childhood, while it 
might make the individual more religious or more 
artistic, does not appear to be a guarantee against 
mental conflict. And, indeed, there are limits to 
the extent of sublimation. From certain ethical 
and social standards a high degree of sublima- 
tion appears to be desirable; and perhaps it may 
be desirable biologically and psychologically. We 
know very little about how sublimation may pur- 
posively and practically be brought about. 

Strain. It is probable that neuroses and func- 
tional psychoses may be precipitated in adult life 
as a result of general strain, despite the fact that 
some individuals appear to stand strain remark- 
ably well. But it is borne with only fair success 
by others. In any case, the severity with which 
mental strains affect individuals indicates a lack 
of adjustment. We may therefore consider what 
can be done to lessen the tension of life in modern 
civilization. The overuse of some instincts and 
the under-use of others may theoretically produce 
a very uncomfortable state which leads to great 
restlessness and nervousness. Whether such a 
state be a strain or whether it helps to precipi- 
tate a neurosis, it is frequently not a very satisfac- 
tory psychological state of being for an individual, 
particularly when persisting over a long time. It 

seems to be true that the division of labor and the 
social differentiation accompanying modern civi- 
lization do lead to a life where some types of re- 
sponse to stimuli occur very frequently and monot- 
onously. The specialization of modern life 
means for some an extensive use of only a part of 
the varied and wonderful equipment of man. 
Just how serious this unequal functioning is we 
do not know. The more normal adaptation 
would appear ideally to be one where all parts 
of man's equipment would function perhaps not 
exactly as It did In the days of the cave people, 
but nevertheless to a degree which would corre- 
spond to some normal biological standard. It 
may not be possible to define such a standard, 
and the human system may show a high degree of 
variability in this respect, but some such goal Is 

Obstacles to the use of our psychological 
equipment. Assuming on the part of some 
groups an unsatisfactory emotional and instinc- 
tive life, how can more normal functioning be 
attained? Prominent obstacles are long hours of 
labor, specialization of labor and social codes. 
There are also other obstacles. Our codes of 
conduct frequently show a certain rigidity appar- 
ently not suited to the variation due to change 
nor to the variability due to heterogeneity. 
There seems to be something akin to survivals in 


our codes. Perhaps well suited to earlier condi- 
tions, they have not changed to meet the changed 
material conditions. Also, no doubt, the great 
development of science reacts on our morals. 
Codes of conduct are undergoing, nevertheless, 
much change. However, there will always be so- 
cial pressure to conform in conduct. There will 
always be a code of morals, resulting in repres- 
sion of desires, even though they may be changed 
greatly in the interest of better adjustments. 

With regard to specialization, the trend ap- 
pears to be towards more rather than less of it. 
Specialization, particularly among the manual 
workers in modern industry, means less variety in 
occupation and an activity during working hours 
somewhat machine-like. Specialization plus the 
long working day, particularly at uninteresting 
tasks, does not give a picture of well balanced ac- 
tivity. The shortcomings of specialization in la- 
bor may be counterbalanced by fewer hours of 
labor. The movement is still in the direction of 
fewer working hours per day. But to maintain 
production, probably for some time to come, a 
fairly large number of hours of labor per day will 
have to be worked. Under either socialism or 
capitalism, we shall have specialization. And we 
shall always have moral codes. So no doubt 
there will be tendencies to an unbalanced use of 
man's original equipment. There will always be 

repression of desires. What shall be done in the 
face of specialization, social pressure, morality, 
ambition, repression, necessary hours of labor, and 
the inherent inevitability of conflicting interests 
and motives? 

Substitution. The idea of substitutive activi- 
ties arises as a solution. It is suggested from the 
partial use of man's physical equipment. In- 
dividuals following sedentary occupations do 
not in the course of their work use their muscles 
as fully as did the primitive hunter. To meet 
such a situation we have invented the gymnasium 
and devised various athletic activities. What 
seems to be needed is some invention that will do 
for the mechanisms of instinct what the gymnas- 
ium does for the muscles. That is, certain in- 
stinctive tendencies, certain desires, certain mecha- 
nisms of psychological reactions that do not find 
expression in the daily routine of life, need the 
use of substitutive devices that would provide the 
desired activity and yet be in accord with moral 
and social conduct. The urgency of such substi- 
tutions depends upon the harmfulness and extent 
of repression and upon the nature of instinct, mat- 
ters previously discussed. But that such substi- 
tutions are desirable is unquestionable. 

Recreation. While there is no such single in* 
stitution as a gymnasium for the functioning of 
the instincts, nevertheless it is thought that such 

services are performed by certain activities which 
may generally be grouped under the term, recrea- 
tion. We shall be interested in inquiring concern- 
ing recreation as an institution for the functioning 
of emotional and instinctive activities, particularly 
those not active during the daily routine. Such 
a possibility exists because of the fact that the 
same emotion or instinctive tendency may be in- 
cited by many different stimuli and there are many 
different motor outlets possible for the same in- 
stinctive tendency. Thus, self-assertion or acquis- 
itiveness or anger may be aroused by many dif- 
ferent stimuli and their manifestations may be 
various. In recreation a special set of stimuli are 
formed and special motor outlets are created. 
Recreation, as the term is here used, is seen as a 
possible substitute for certain functlonings of hu- 
man nature which are prohibited through the 
daily tasks of many occupations or through the 
prohibitions of the moral code or for other rea- 
sons. May not some substitute outlet for many 
of these tendencies be provided in recreation? 
Modern life provides a great many stimuli to de- 
sires which are not gratified. Such stimuli are the 
multitudinous advertising displays, the behavior 
of others, the various Incidents that appeal to 
hope and ambition, types of recreation, and plea- 
sures possibly beyond our economic means. Some 
of these stimuli are popularly called temptations. 


Modern life arouses many desires and longings 
that are not satisfied. Is it not possible that re- 
creation may furnish an outlet for some of these 
instinctive tendencies? 

Psychological aspects of recreation. Obvi- 
ously emotions and specific instinctive drives are 
found in recreations. In games, for instance, are 
seen fear, anxiety, anger, the desire for mastery, 
self-assertiveness, leadership, sociability. It is 
possible indeed, if the instincts were listed and 
the many types of recreation analyzed, that all 
the instincts would be found operating in one re- 
creation or another. It is therefore quite feas- 
ible to provide for the functioning of instincts. 
Thus in the case of a factory "hand," recreation 
will enable certain instincts to function which find 
little opportunity to do so within the factory 
walls. But in the case where instincts are 
aroused in the course of daily life but do not com- 
plete their expression it is not quite so obvious that 
recreation will provide the desired outlets. It is 
a question of the time element between stimulation 
and expression. Can there be a delay between 
the beginning and ending of an act of instinctive 
behavior? One's tendency to self-assertion may 
be aroused in a committee meeting and not find 
expression there, but, our point is, can the self- 
assertion thus aroused find expression in a later 
meeting of the committee, or in a game of tennis ? 

That the aroused state may hold for a time Is 
true, as previously instanced, but perhaps the 
more immediate the completion of the response 
the more satisfactory it is. The efficacy of de- 
layed substitution will vary with the different de- 
sires and in different situations. Much more 
definite information can be known by a study of 
particular situations. Generally, however, the 
use of substitution seems to be rather widely ap- 

Much substitution may occur through activities 
other than what is customarily known as recrea- 
tion, as, for instance, in religion or in the pursuit 
of hobbies. Recreation is, though, a broad and 
fertile field for utilizing such substitutes. 

The idea of substitution is thus seen to be a 
very fruitful one. It is not to be confused with 
sublimation. In sublimation an internal change 
of a more or less permanent character is supposed 
to occur; whereas in the substitution we are speak- 
ing of, manipulation is largely of external situa- 
tions with no fundamental change in the personal- 
ity. In substitution, the instincts as they exist in 
an individual are aroused, or their functioning 
completed, or both, by substituting stimuli and 
outlets in the place of others, or in providing them 
where they do not exist. 

The primitive nature of recreation. Concern- 
ing recreation, Patrick in his Psychology of Re- 


laxation has compared the recreation of modern 
man to the serious activities of our primitive an- 
cestors. This comparison is quite impressive, for 
instance, in the case of hunting, fishing, and camp- 
ing. In bull-fighting, in boxing and in football 
the resemblances are very close. Perhaps he 
pushes the analogy a little far in the case of base- 
ball, where he says that there are three sets of 
motions preeminent in baseball that were of sur- 
vival value in the business of living of the primi- 
tive hunter, namely, hitting, throwing and running. 
This conception of sports conforms to the theory 
that we are cave men trying to live in an artificial 
civilization. Of course, in so far as modern 
sports are objectively the same as the business 
activities of primitive hunters, presumably some- 
what the same instincts would come into play. 
But also the instincts of the primitive hunter may 
function in activities where the objective resem- 
blance to the business activities of primitive hunt- 
ers is very slight. In interpreting recreation in 
this light one should remember that cultural traits, 
as, for instance, the learned traits of 'a primitive 
hunter, are not inherited. An understanding of 
this theory of sports is dependent upon an under- 
standing of the theory that we are cave people 
living in an artificial culture. 

Stimulation and expression. The place of 
recreation in the problem of adjustment under 

consideration is, in a general way, clear. Some 
more detailed observations should be made, how- 
ever, on the nature of recreation. There are 
really two different kinds of recreation in regard 
to the functioning of the instincts. One kind 
stimulates the Instincts but makes poor provision 
for what we have been calling their outlet. 
Others do not make such provision. It is recalled 
that there are several distinct parts to an instinc- 
tive act. There is the perception or the aware- 
ness of the stimuli; the feeling or the emotion is 
a distinct part; and there is motor expression, or 
outlet. A complete Instinctive act has these three 
features. In certain types of recreation, there is 
a satisfactory stimulation of the feelings but ap- 
parently very little provision for any motor ex- 
pression; at least, the drive does not work out 
through much bodily activity. Where an individ- 
ual participates in a boxing match or a football 
game or In various athletic contests, such Is not 
the case, for there is abundant provision for 
motor outlet. This does not appear on the sur- 
face to be so true of a recreation such as attend- 
ing the theatre, except as there Is expression In 
tears, laughter, or applause. The theatre Is a 
wonderful Invention for arousing the emotions. 
As one identifies oneself with the different char- 
acters of the play, one feels love, hate, ambition, 
rivalry, fear, passion, etc. We do not know very 


much about the motor outlet in connection with 
many of these emotions; it is conceivable that 
there may be outlets or expression with little bod- 
ily activity. Activity may occur in various glands 
during these emotions which may be somewhat 
similar to the frequently referred-to motor out- 
let. Again, some muscular activities, like shiver- 
ing though not massive are distinctly motor and 
fulfill profound needs. We are not, however, in 
a position to speak positively concerning the re- 
creations involving little movement. There are, 
of course, many other types of recreation which 
are similar to the theatre in that the motor out- 
let is not impressively recognized. 

Observers and participants. Recreations may 
also be classified according to whether we are 
observers or participants. It is easier to believe 
that the instinctive behavior is more complete in 
the case of the participant than of the observer. 
The observer at a game is in the same position 
as an observer at the theatre. There is evidence 
of emotion but not very much evidence of the 
activity that is supposed to follow some emotions. 
Our information is meagre concerning the motor 
aspect of instinctive behavior; but there is clearly 
a difference between the arousing of a desire and 
its gratification. Some types of recreation, such 
as, for instance, those that appeal to the sex in- 
stinct, apparently arouse the instinct but do not 

provide for the completion of the act. THe ob- 
server, in contrast to the participant, may have 
his emotions aroused, but find insufficient outlet. 
An inventory of the recreations further reveals 
many such as dancing, card-playing, gambling and 
talking, concerning which it is not very clear what 
happens psychologically when one takes part in 

The importance of recreation. Human be- 
havior does not consist wholly of simple unrelated 
tendencies such as the instincts. There exist cer- 
tain desires more general, complex, and flexible 
and more bound up with the conception of self than 
the stereotyped tendencies described as instinct In 
studies of animal behavior. Instinctive tenden- 
cies are built up into what McDougall calls the 
sentiments. In man memory and experience play 
a great part In determining the nature of the ope- 
ration of our drives. The mind, the soul and the 
spirit are other terms used for less specific ten- 
dencies. The importance of recreation will pre- 
sumably be greater, the greater the importance 
accorded to the more specific tendencies. Recrea- 
tion will hardly cure a troubled soul, nor will it 
cure a neurosis. No doubt there are many failures 
In adjustment to culture that Involve a less speci- 
fic tendency than what we think of as simple In- 
stinct, and the value of recreation in such situa- 
tions Is not so great. The Importance of recrea- 

tion in the problem of adjustment also depends 
upon the extent to which modern culture * 'balks" 
the instincts. It is very easy to overemphasize 
the "balking" of the Instincts, for the reason that 
there are so many different cultural stimuli and 
cultural outlets for Instinctive desires. 

We have argued that recreation is a device of 
considerable value in making adaptation between 
human nature and culture. It is claimed that the 
significance of recreation for social theory has not 
been sufficiently appreciated; nor has It been ac- 
corded the place it deserves in sociological lit- 

We regret that our investigation does not lead 
to a more definite formulation. But It should be 
remembered that human motives are a very 
tangled web. Their mysteries have been probed 
by poets, novelists, psychologists and leaders. 
No one at this time could be so presumptuous as 
to expect a reduction of the many diverse prob- 
lems of human nature to a simple formula. Un- 
der any form or organization of culture, there 
will be problems of human nature as long as we 
live together in groups, which will be always. 
Still it is thought that a consideration of the in- 
stincts, the libido, neuroses, sex problems, substi- 
tution and recreation do point to very distinct pos- 
sibilities of a better adjustment between our mod- 
ern culture and human nature. 


Cultural change involved in social problems. 
As to the evidence of lack of proper adjustment 
between culture and human nature as seen in socio- 
logical problems such as crime, sex problems and 
unequal distribution of wealth, it would seem 
that the modification of the particular cultural 
features concerned would in general be more prac- 
ticable than further attempts to change the origi- 
nal nature of man, and somewhat better results 
would be expected from such a procedure. It was 
observed that a great many of these social prob- 
lems flow from the dominance of what Is called 
selfishness and the lack of the power and scope of 
what Is known as altruism. This is of course a 
profound question and deserves very full and care- 
ful consideration at the hands of sociologists. 
But from the biological consideration of human 
nature we have been discussing, there is no oc- 
casion to depart from the position already taken 
that to change culture to make the better adjust- 
ments is somewhat more practicable than to 
change human nature. There are. In connection 
with the problem of selfishness In social prob- 
blems, a great many opportunities for arranging 
cultural situations, not necessarily to diminish or 
repress selfishness and increase altruism, but 
rather to keep selfishness In bounds. 

Perhaps we should discuss plans of changing 
the economic order, such as are involved in such 


extensive programmes as socialism, and the more 
specific schemes for dealing with particular prob- 
lems. Each such programme must be studied on 
its own merits. Much attention has indeed been 
devoted to these Issues. There are no doubt 
many merits in socialism, and surely we can imag- 
ine a better economic order which would be ac- 
companied by less injustice; but even assuming a 
fundamental change in the economic order to have 
occurred, social problems would not have disap- 
peared ; there would still be Inequalities In the rate 
of cultural change, and many problems involving 
human nature would remain. This Is not the 
place to pass rapid judgment on so fundamental a 
programme as changing the economic order. 


In the discussion of the adjustment of human nat- 
ure and modern culture we have examined first 
the theory that we are cave people trying to live 
In an artificial culture, a theory that Is rather 
readily suggested from the contents of Part 11. 
This theory as popularly conceived Is partly erron- 
eous and misleading for several reasons. Fore- 
most among these reasons Is the fact that the 
term, cave man, is a deceptive and an Inadequate 
description of the original nature of man. Fur- 
thermore, while our modern culture is recent and 


objectively different from any culture that has pre- 
ceded, it does not necessarily, for this reason, 
cause maladjustment. Although human nature 
may be stable over a great number of generations, 
it is quite adaptable and flexible within a lifetime 
and also culture, by virtue of its rapid changes in 
recent years, may display considerable adapta- 

However, there Is evidence of a lack of 
harmonious adjustment between modern culture 
and human nature, as seen particularly in the 
extent of neuroses and functional psychoses, and 
in certain social problems. In the more acute 
cases of maladjustment the more probable solu- 
tion of the difficulty lies not in attempts to change 
human nature but rather in attempts to change 
culture; for the reason that in such acute in- 
stances further efforts at changing human nature 
result in repression of instincts which is followed 
by objectionable consequences to the Individual 
and aggravations of the social problems. On the 
other hand the nature of cultural growth and 
change shows that it is futile to plan any whole- 
sale and powerful control of the course of social 
evolution. Directing the change of culture is 
much more difficult than is customarily conceived. 
It is, however, not necessary to change culture as 
a whole, for relatively minor changes may result 
in much better adjustments. These changes, 


though difficult, may be looked forward to 
as feasible, if not now, certainly in time. They 
concern influences affecting the life of children and 
parental affection, sex education, modification of 
social codes, shorter hours of labor, recognition 
of boundaries to selfishness, specific social pro- 
grammes, and finally it is thought that possibilities 
of better adjustment lie in the wise development 
of substitutive activities such as recreation. 





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